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AMELIA    BLANDFORD    EDWARDS. 


\\wt'$  m\axm  **  the  mvw$  $c$t  ~§mu. 


A  THOUSAND  MILES 
UP  THE  NILE. 


By  AMELIA  B.  EDWARDS. 

Author  of  "Untrodden  Peaks  and  Unfrequented  Valleys,"  "Lord  Bracken- 
bury,"  "Barbara's  History,"  etc. 


'  It  flows  through  old  hush'd  Egypt  and  its  sands, 
Like  some  grave,  mighty  thought,  threading  a  dream." 

—Leigh  Hunt. 


ILLUSTRATED. 


( 


nm  v      * 


NEW  YORK: 

A.  L.  BUET,  PUBLISHER. 


-Ml 


PREFACE 

TO    THE     FIRST    EDITION". 


"  Un  voyage  en  Egypte,  c'est  une  partie  d'anes  et  une  promenade  en 
bateau  entrenielees  de  mines. " — Ampere. 

Ampere  has  put  Egypt  in  aii  epigram.  "  A  donkey  ride 
and  a  boating  trip  interspersed  with  ruins"  does,  in  fact, 
sum  np  in  a  single  line  the  whole  experience  of  the  Nile 
traveler.  Apropos  of  these  three  things — the  donkeys, 
the  boat,  and  the  ruins — it  may  be  said  that  a  good  English 
saddle  and  a  comfortable  dahabeeyah  add  very  considerably 
to  the  pleasure  of  the  journey;  and  that  the  more  one 
knows*  about  the  past  history  of  the  country,  the  more  one 
enjoys  the  ruins. 

Of  the  comparative  merits  of  wooden  boats,  iron  boats, 
and  steamers,  I  am  not  qualified  to  speak.  We,  however, 
saw  one  iron  dahabeeyah  aground  upon  a  sand-bank,  where, 
as  we  afterward  learned,  it  remained  for  three  weeks.  We 
also  saw  the  wrecks  of  three  steamers  between  Cairo  and 
the  first  cataract.  It  certainly  seemed  to  us  that  the  old- 
fashioned  wooden  dahabeeyah  —  flat-bottomed,  drawing 
little  water,  light  in  hand,  and  easily  poled  off  when  stuck 
— was  the  one  vessel  best  constructed  for  the  navigation  of 
the  Nile.  Other  considerations,  as  time  and  cost,  are,  of 
course,  involved  in  this  question.  The  choice  between 
dahabeeyah  and  steamer  is  like  the  choice  between 
trailing  with  post-horses  and  traveling  by  rail.     The  one 

-as*1 


/  ±/7o 


lv  PREFACE. 

is  expensive,  leisurely,  delightful;  the  other  is  cheap,  swift, 
and  comparatively  comfortless.  Those  who  are  content  to 
snatch  but  a  glimpse  of  the  Nile  will  doubtless  prefer  the 
steamer.  I  may  add  that  the  whole  cost  of  the  Phila? — 
food,  dragoman's  wages,  boat-hire,  cataract,  everything 
included,  except  wine — was  about  £10  per  day. 

With  regard  to  temperature,  we  found  it  cool — even 
cold,  sometimes — in  December  and  January;  mild  in  Feb- 
ruary; very  warm  in  March  and  April.  The  climate  of 
Nubia  is  simply  perfect.  It  never  rains;  and  once  past 
the  limit  of  the  tropic  there  is  no  morning  or  evening  chill 
upon  the  air.  Yet  even  in  Nubia,  and  especially  along  the 
forty  miles  which  divide  Abou  Simbel  from  Wady  Halfeh, 
it  is  cold  when  the  wind  blows  strongly  from  the  north.* 

Touching  the  title  of  this  book,  it  may  be  objected  that 
the  distance  from  the  port  of  Alexandria  to  the  second 
cataract  falls  short  of  a  thousand  miles.  It  is,  in  fact, 
calculated  at  nine  hundred  and  sixty  four  and  a  half  miles. 
But  from  the  Eock  of  Abusir,  five  miles  above  Wady  Hal- 
feh, the  traveler  looks  over  an  extent  of  country  far  exceed- 
ing the  thirty  or  thirty-five  miles  necessary  to  make  up  the 
full  tale  of  a  thousand.  We  distinctly  saw  from  this  point 
the  summits  of  mountains  which  lie  about  one  hundred 
and  forty-five  miles  to  the  southward  of  Wady  Halfeh, 
and  which  look  down  upon  the  third  cataract. 

Perhaps  I  ought  to  say  something  in  answer  to  the 
repeated  inquiries  of  those  who  looked  for  the  publication 
of  this  volume  a  year  ago.  I  can,  however,  only  reply  that 
the  writer,  instead  of  giving  one  year,  has  given  two  years  to 
the  work.   To  write  rapidly  about  Egypt  is  impossible.    The 

*  For  the  benefit  of  any  who  desire  more  exact  information,  I  may 
add  that  a  table  of  average  temperatures,  carefully  registered  day  by 
day  and  week  by  week,  is  to  be  found  at  the  end  of  Mr.  H.  Villiers 
Stuart's  "  Nile  Gleanings."     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


PREFACE.  V 

subject  grows  with  the  book,  and  with  the  knowledge  one 
acquires  by  the  way.  It  is,  moreover,  a  subject  beset  with 
such  obstacles  as  must  impede  even  the  swiftest  pen;  and 
to  that  swiftest  pen  I  lay  no  claim.  Moreover,  the  writer 
who  seeks  to  be  accurate,  has  frequently  to  go  for  his  facts, 
if  not  actually  to  original  sources  (which  would  be  the 
texts  themselves),  at  all  events  to  translations  and  com- 
mentaries locked  up  in  costly  folios,  or  dispersed  far  and 
wide  among  the  pages  of  scientific  journals  and  the  trans- 
actions of  learned  societies.  A  date,  a  name,  a  passing 
reference,  may  cost  hours  of  seeking. 

More  pleasant  is  it  to  remember  labor  lightened  than  to 
consider  time  spent;  and  I  have  yet  to  thank  the  friends 
who  have  spared  no  pains  to  help  this  book  on  its  way. 
To  S.  Birch,  Esq.,  LL.D.,  etc.,  so  justly  styled  "the 
parent  in  this  country  of  a  sound  school  of  Egyptian 
philology/'  who,  besides  translating  the  hieratic  and  hier- 
oglyphic inscriptions  contained  in  chapter  eighteen,  has 
also,  with  infinite  kindness,  seen  the  whole  of  that  chapter 
through  the  press;  to  Reginald  Stuart  Poole,  Esq.;  to 
Professor  R.  Owen,  C.  B.,  etc.;  to  Sir  G.  W.  Cox,  I  desire 
to  offer  my  hearty  and  grateful  acknowledgments.  It  is 
surely  not  least  among  the  glories  of  learning  that  those 
who  adorn  it  most  and  work  hardest  should  ever  be  read- 
iest to  share  the  stores  of  their  knowledge, 

Of  the  fascination  of  Egyptian  travel,  of  the  charm  of 
the  Nile,  of  the  unexpected  and  surpassing  beauty  of  the 
desert,  of  the  ruins  which  are  the  wonder  of  the  world,  I 
have  said  enough  elsewhere.  I  must,  however,  add  that 
I  brought  home  with  me  an  impression  that  things  and 
people  are  much  less  changed  in  Egypt  than  we  of  the 
present  day  are  wont  to  suppose.  I  believe  that  the 
physique  and  life  of  the  modern  fellah  is  almost  identical 
with  the  physique  and  life  of  that  ancient  Egyptian  laborer 


vi  PREFACE. 

whom  we  know  so  well  in  the  wall  paintings  of  the  tombs. 
Square  in  the  shoulders,  slight  but  strong  in  the  limbs, 
full-lipped,  brown-skinned,  we  see  him  wearing  the  same 
loin-cloth,  plying  the  same  shaduf,  plowing  with  the  same 
plow,  preparing  the  same  food  in  the  same  way,  and  eat- 
ing it  with  his  fingers  from  the  same  bowl,  as  did  his  fore 
fathers  of  six  thousand  years  ago. 

The  household  life  and  social  ways  of  even  the  provincial 
gentry  are  little  changed.  Water  is  poured  on  one's  hands 
before  going  to  dinner  from  just  such  a  ewer  and  into  just 
such  a  basin  as  we  see  pictured  in  the  festival  scenes  at 
Thebes.  Though  the  lotus-blossom  is  missing,  a  bouquet 
is  still  given  to  each  guest  when  he  takes  his  place  at  table. 
The  head  of  the  sheep  killed  for  the  banquet  is  still  given 
to  the  poor.  Those  who  are  helped  to  meat  or  drink  touch 
the  head  and  breast  in  acknowledgment,  as  of  old.  The 
musicians  still  sit  at  the  lower  end  of  the  hall,  the  singers 
yet  clap  their  hands  in  time  to  their  own  voices;  the  danc- 
ing-girls still  dance  and  the  buffoon  in  his  high  cap  still  per- 
forms his  uncouth  antics,  for  the  entertainment  of  the 
guests.  Water  is  brought  to  table  in  jars  of  the  same  shape 
manufactured  at  the  same  town,  as  in  the  days  of  Cheops 
and  Chephren;  and  the  mouths  of  the  bottles  are  filled  in 
precisely  the  same  way  with  fresh  leaves  and  flowers.  The 
cucumber  stuffed  with  minced-meat  was  a  favorite  dish  in 
those  times  of  old;  and  I  can  testify  to  its  excellence  in 
1874.  Little  boys  in  Nubia  yet  wear  the  side-lock  that 
graced  the  head  of  Rameses  in  his  youth;  and  little  girls 
may  be  seen  in  a  garment  closely  resembling  the  girdle 
worn  by  young  princesses  of  the  time  of  Thothmes  I.  A 
sheik  still  walks  with  a  long  staff;  a  Nubian  belle  still 
plaits  her  tresses  in  scores  of  little  tails;  and  the  pleasure- 
boat  of  the  modern  governor  or  mudir,  as  well  as  the  daha- 
beeyah  hired  by  the  European  traveler,  reproduces  in  all 


PREFACE.  vii 

essential  features  the   painted   galleys  represented   in  the 
tombs  of  the  kings. 

In  these  and  in  a  hundred  other  instances,  all  of  which 
came  under  my  personal  observation  and  have  their  place 
in  the  following  pages,  it  seemed  to  me  that  any  obscurity 
which  yet  hangs  over  the  problem  of  life  and  thought  in 
ancient  Egypt  originates  most  probably  with  ourselves. 
Our  own  habits  of  life  and  thought  are  so  complex  that 
they  shut  us  off  from  the  simplicity  of  that  early  world. 
So  it  was  with  the  problem  of  hieroglyphic  writing.  The 
thing  was  so  obvious  that  no  one  could  find  it  out.  As  long 
as  the  world  persisted  in  believing  that  every  hieroglyph 
was  an  abstruse  symbol,  and  every  hieroglyphic  inscription 
a  profound  philosophical  rebus,  the  mystery  of  Egyptian 
literature  remained  insoluble.  Then  at  last  came  Cham- 
pollion's  famous  letter  to  Dacier,  showing  that  the  hiero- 
glyphic signs  were  mainly  alphabetic  and  syllabic,  and  that 
the  language  they  spelled  was  only  Coptic,  after  all. 

li<-  there  were  not  thousands  who  still  conceive  that  the 
sun  and  moon  were  created  and'  are  kept  going  for  no 
other  purpose  than  to  lighten  the  darkness  of  our  little 
planet;  if  only  the  other  day  a  grave  gentleman  had  not 
written  a  perfectly  serious  essay  to  show  that  the  world  is  a 
flat  plain,  one  would  scarcely  believe  that  there  could 
still  be  people  who  doubt  that  ancient  Egyptian  is  now  read 
and  translated  as  fluently  as  ancient  Greek.  Yet  an  English- 
man whom  I  met  in  Egypt — an  Englishman  who  had  long 
been  resident  in  Cairo,  and  who  was  well  acquainted  with  the 
great  Egyptologists  who  are  attached  to  the  service  of  the 
khedive — assured  me  of  his  profound  disbelief  in  the  dis- 
covery of  Champollion.  "In  my  opinion,"  said  he,  "not 
one  of  these  gentlemen  can  read  a  line  of  hieroglyphics." 
^As  I  then  knew  nothing  of  the  Egyptian  I  could  say 
nothing  to  controvert  this  speech.     Since  that  time,  how- 


viii  PREFACE. 

ever,  and  while  writing  this  book,  I  have  been  led  on  step 
by  step  to  the  study  of  hieroglyphic  writing  ;  and  I  now 
know  that  Egyptian  c;m  be  read,  for  the  simple  reason 
that  I  find  myself  able  to  read  an  Egyptian  sentence. 

My  testimony  may  not  be  of  much  value  ;  but  I  give  it 
for  the  little  that  it  is  worth. 

The  study  of  Egyptian  literature  has  advanced  of  late 
years  with  rapid  strides.  Papyri  are  found  less  frequently 
than  they  were  some  thirty  or  forty  years  ago;  but  the 
translation  of  those  contained  in  the  museums  of  Europe 
goes  on  now  more  diligently  than  at  any  former  time. 
Religious  books,  variants  of  the  ritual,  moral  essays, 
maxims,  private  letters,  hymns,  epic  poems,  historical 
chronicles,  accounts,  deeds  of  sale,  medical,  magical  and 
astronomical  treatises,  geographical  records,  travels  and 
even  romances  and  tales,  are  brought  to  light,  photo- 
graphed, fac-similed  in  chromo-lithography,  printed  in 
hieroglyphic  type  and  translated  in  forms  suited  both  to 
the  learned  and  to  the  general  reader. 

Not  all  this  literature  is  written,  however,  on  papyrus. 
The  greater  proportion  of  it  is  carved  in  stone.  Some  is 
painted  on  wood,  written  on  linen,  leather,  potsherds  and 
other  substances.  So  the  old  mystery  of  Egypt,  which 
was  her  literature,  has  vanished.  The  key  to  the  hiero- 
glyphs is  the  master-key  that  opens  every  door.  Each 
year  that  now  passes  over  our  heads  sees  some  old  problem 
solved.  Each  day  brings  some  long-buried  truth  to  light. 
Some  thirteen  years  ago,*  a  distinguished  American 
artist  painted  a  very  beautiful  picture  called  "  The  Secret 
of  the  Sphinx."  In  its  widest  sense  the  secret  of  the  sphinx 
would  mean,  I  suppose,  the  whole  uninterpreted  and  un- 

*  These  dates,  it  is  to  be  reniemberd,  refer  to  the  year  1877,  when 
the  first  edition  of  this  book  was  published.  [Note  to  second 
edition.] 


PREFACE. 


\\ 


discovered  past  of  Egypt.  In  its  narrower  sense,  the 
secret  of  the  sphinx  was,  till  quite  lately,  the  hidden  sig- 
nificance of  the  human-headed  lion  which  is  one  of  the 
typical  subjects  of  Egyptian  art. 

Thirteen  years  is  a  short  time  to  look  back  upon  ;  yet 
great  things  have  been  done  in  Egypt  and  in  Egyptology, 
since  then.  Edfu,  with  its  extraordinary  wealth  of  inscrip- 
tions, has  been  laid  bare.  The  whole  contents  of  the 
Boulak  Museum  have  been  recovered  from  the  darkness  of 
the  tombs.  The  very  mystery  of  the  sphinx  has  been  dis- 
closed ;  and  even  within  the  last  eighteen  months,  M. 
Chabas  announces  that  he  has  discovered  the  date  of  the 
pyramid  of  Mycerinus;  so  for  the  first  time  establishing 
the  chronology  of  ancient  Egypt  upon  an  ascertained 
foundation.  Thus  the  work  goes  on ;  students  in  their 
libraries,  excavators  under  Egyptian  skies,  toiling  along 
different  paths  toward  a  common  goal.  The  picture 
means  more  to-day  than  it  meant  thirteen  years  ago  — 
means  more,  even,  than  the  artist  intended.  The  sphinx 
has  no  secret  now,  save  for  the  ignorant. 

In  the  picture  Ave  see  a  brown,  half-naked,  toil-worn 
fellah  laying  his  ear  to  the  stone  lips  of  a  colossal  sphinx, 
buried  to  the  neck  in  sand.  Some  instinct  of  the  old 
Egyptian  blood  tells  him  that  the  creature  is  godlike.  He 
is  conscious  of  a  great  mystery  lying  far  back  in  the  past. 
He  has,  perhaps,  a  dim,  confused  notion  that  the  Big 
Head  knows  it  all,  whatever  it  may  be.  He  has  never 
heard  of  the  morning-song  of  Memnon;  but  he  fancies, 
somehow,  that  those  closed  lips  might  speak  if  questioned. 
Fellah  and  sphinx  are  alone  together  in  the  desert.  It  is 
night  and  the  stars  are  shining.  Has  he  chosen  the  right 
hour?  What  doees  he  seek  to  know?  AVhat  does  he  hope 
to  hew  ? 

Mr.  Vedder  has  permitted  me  to  enrich  this  book  with 


x  PREFACE. 

an  engraving  from  his  picture.     It  tells  its  own  tale;  or 
rather  it  tells  as  much  of  its  own  tale  as  the  artist  chooses. 


Each  must  interpret  for  himself 
The  secret  of  the  sphinx. 

AMELIA   B.    EDWARDS. 

Westbury-on-Trym,  Gloucestershire,  December,  1877. 


PREFACE 

TO  THE   SECOND   EDITION. 


First  published  in  1877,  this  book  has  been  out  of  print 
for  several  years.  I  have,  therefore,  very  gladly  revised  it 
for  a  new  and  cheaper  edition.  In  so  revising  it,  I  have 
corrected  some  of  the  historical  notes  by  the  light  of  later 
discoveries;  but  I  have  left  the  narrative  untouched.  Of 
tJie  political  changes  which  have  come  over  the  laud  of 
Egypt  since  that  narrative  was  written,  I  have  taken  no 
note  ;  and  because  I  in  no  sense  offer  myself  as  a  guide 
to  others,  I  say  nothing  of  the  altered  conditions  under 
which  most  Nile  travelers  now  perform  the  trip.  All 
these  things  will  be  more  satisfactorily,  and  more  practi- 
cally, learned  from  the  pages  of  Baedeker  and  Murray. 

AMELIA  B.  EDWARDS. 

Westbuky-on-Trtm,  October,  1888. 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER   I. 

CAIRO  AND  THE   GREAT  PYRAMID. 

Page. 

Arrival  at  Cairo — Shepheard's  Hotel — The  Moskee — The  Khan 
Khaleel — The  Bazaars — Dahabeeyahs — Ghizeh — The  Pyra- 
mids     1 

CHAPTER   II. 

CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE. 

The  Mosque  of  Sultan  Hassan — Moslems  at  Prayer — Mosque  of 
Mehemet  Ali — View  from  the  Platform — Departure  of  the 
Caravan  for  Mecca — The  Bab  en-Nasr — The  Procession — 
The  Mahinal — Howling  Dervishes — The  Mosque  of  Amr — 
The  Sliubra  Road 15 

CHAPTER    III. 

CAIRO   TO  BEDRESHAYN. 

Departure  for  the  Nile  Voyage— Farewell  to  Cairo — Turra — 
The  Phil*  and  crew — The  Dahabeeyah  and  the  Nile  Sailor 
— Native  Music — Bedreshayn 32 

CHAPTER   IV. 

SAKKARAH   AND  MEMPHIS. 

The  Palms  of  Memphis— Three  Groups  of  Pyramids— The  M. 
B.'s  and  Their  Groom — Relic-hunting — The  Pyramid  of 
Ouenephes — The  Serapeum — A  Royal  Raid— The  Tomb  of 
Ti — The  Fallen  Colossus — Memphis 43 

CHAPTER  V. 

BEDRESHAYN   TO  MINIEH. 

The  Rule  of  the  Nile— The  Shadiif— Beni  Suef— Thieves  by 
Night — The  Chief  of  the  Guards — A  Sand-storm — "  Holy 


xiv  CONTENTS. 


Page. 


Sheik  Cotton  "—The  Convent  of  the  Pulley— A  Copt— The 
Shadow  of  the  World — Minieh — A  Native  Market — Prices 
of  Provisions — The  Dom  Palm — Fortune-telling — Oph- 
thalmia          65 

CHAPTER  VI. 

MINIEH  TO   SIUT. 

Christmas  Day — The  Party  Completed — Christmas  Dinner  on 
the  Nile — A  Fantasia — Noah's  Ark — Birds  of  Egypt — 
Gebel  Abuf ayda  —  Unknown  Stelae  —  Imprisoned  —  The 
Scarab-beetle — Manfalut — Siiit — Red  and  Black  Pottery — 
Ancient  Tombs — View  Over  the  Plain — Biblical  Legend. .         83 

CHAPTER   VII. 

SIUT    TO   DENDERAn. 

An  "Experienced  Surgeon" — Passing  Scenery — Girgeh — Sheik 
Selim — Kasr  es  Syad — Forced  Labor — Temple  of  Den- 
derah — Cleopatra — Benighted 99 

CHAPTER   VIII. 

THEBES  AND  KARNAK. 

Luxor — Donkey-boys — Topography  of  Ancient  Thebes — Pylons 
of  Luxor — Poem  of  Pentaur — The  Solitary  Obelisk — In- 
terior of  the  Temple  of  Luxor — Polite  Postmaster — Ride 
to  Karnak — Great  Temple  of  Karnak — The  Hypostyle 
Hall— A  World  of  Ruins 121 

CHAPTER  IX. 

THEBES     TO   ASSUAN. 

A  Storm  on  the  Nile — Erment — A  Gentlemanly  Bey — Esneh — 
A  Buried  Temple — A  Long  Day's  Sketching — Salame  the 
Chivalrous — Remarkable  Coin — Antichi — The  Fellah — The 
Pylons  of  Edf  u — An  Exciting  Race — The  Philae  Wins  by  a 
Length 140 

CHAPTER  X. 

ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE. 

Assuan — Strange  Wares  for  Sale — Madame  Nubia — Castor  Oil 
The  Black  Governor — An  Enormous  Blunder— Tannhauser 
in  Egypt — Elephantine — Inscribed  Potsherds — Bazaar  of 
Assuan — The  Camel — A  Ride  in  the  Desert — The  Obelisk 
of  the  Quarry — A  Death  iu  the  Town 157 


CONTENTS.  XV 

CHAPTER  XL 

THE  CATARACT  AND  THE   DESERT, 

Page. 

Scenery  of  the  Cataract — The  Sheik  of  the  Cataract — Vexa- 
tious Delays — The  Painter's  Vocabulary — Mahatta — An 
cient  Bed  of  the  Nile — Abyssinian  Caravan  176 

CHAPTER   XII, 

PHIL.E. 

Pharaoh's  "Bed— The  Temples — Champollion's  Discovery — The 
Painted  Columns — Coptic  Phike — Phike  and  Desaix — 
Chamber  of  Osiris — Inscribed  Rock — View  from  the  Roof 
of  the  Temple 188 

CHAPTER   XIII. 

PHIL^E    TO    KOROSKO. 

Nubian  Scenery — A  Sand-slope — Missing  Yusef — Trading  by 
Ithe  Way — Panoramic  Views — Volcanic  Cones — Dakkeh — 
Korosko — Letters  from  Home 211 

CHAPTER    XIV. 

KOROSKO   TO  ABOU  SIMBEL. 

El-Id  el-Kebir — Stalking  Wild  Ducks — Temple  of  Amada — 
Fine  Art  of  the  Thothmes — Derr — A  Native  Funeral — 
Temple  of  Derr — The  "Fair"  Families — The  Sakkieh — 
Arrival  at  Abou  Simbel  by  Moonlight 220 

CHAPTER    XV. 

RAMESES  THE  GREAT. 

Youth  of  Rameses  the  Great — Treaty  with  the  Kheta — His 
Wives — His  Great  Works — The  Captivity — Pithom  and 
Rameses — Kauiser  and  Keniamon — The  Birth  of  Moses — 
Tomb  of  Osymandias — Character  of  Rameses  the  Great. . .       230 

CHAPTER  XVI. 

ABOU    SIMBEL. 

The  Colossi — Portraits  of  Rameses  the  Great — The  Great  Sand- 
drift — ^he  Smaller  Temples — "  Rameses  and  Nefertari" — 
The  Great  Temple — A  Monster  Tableau — Alone  in  the 
Great  Temple — Trail  of  a  Crocodile — Cleaning  the  Colossus 
—The  Sufferings  of  the  Sketcher 258 


xvi  CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER    XVII. 

THE     SECOND    CATARACT. 


Page. 


Volcanic  Mountains— Kalat  Adda— Gebel  est-Shems— The  First 
Crocodile — Dull  Scenery — Wady  Halfeli— The  Rock  of 
Abusir — The  Second  Cataract — The  Great  View — Croco- 
dile-slaying— Excavating  a  Tumulus — Comforts  of  Home 
on  the  Nile 283 

CHAPTER  XVIII. 

DISCOVERIES   AT  ABOTJ  SIMBEL. 

Society  at  Abou  Simbel — The  Painter  Discovers  a  Rock-cut 
Chamber — Sunday  Employment — Re-enforcement  of  Na- 
tives— Excavation — The  Sheik—  Discovery  of  Human  Re- 
mains— Discovery  of  Pylon  and  Staircase — Decorations  of 
Painted  Chamber — Inscriptions 295 

CHAPTER  XIX. 

BACK  THROUGH   NUBIA. 

Temples  ad  infinitum — Tosko — Crocodiles — Derr  and  Amada 
Again — Wady  Sabooah — Haughty  Beauty — A  Nameless 
City — A  River  of  Sand — Undiscovered  Temple — Mahar- 
rakeh — Dakkeh — Fortress  of  Kobban — Gerf  Hossayn — 
Dendoor — Bayt-et-Welly — The  Karnak  of  Nubia — Silco 
of  the  Ethiopians — Tafah — Dabod — Baby-shooting — A  Di- 
lemma— Justice  in  Egypt — The  Last  of  Philse 324 

CHAPTER  XX. 

SILSILIS    AND    EDFU. 

Shooting  the  Cataract — Kom  Ombo — Quarries  of  Silsilis — Edfu 
the  Most  Perfect  of  Egyptian  Temples — View  from  the 
Pylons — Sand  Columns 353 

CHAPTER  XXI. 

THEBES. 

Luxor  Again — Imitation  "Anteekahs" — Digging  for  Mummies — 
Tombs  of  Thebes — The  Ramesseum — The  Granite  Colossus 
— Medinet  Habu — The  Pavilion  of  Rameses  III — The 
Great  Chronicle — An  Arab  Storv-teller — Gournah — Bab  el 
Moluk— The  Shadowless  Valley  of  Death— The  Tombs  of 
the  Kings — Stolen  Goods — The  French  House — An  Arab 
Dinner  and  Fantasia — The  Coptic  Church  at  Luxor — A 
Coptic  Service — A  Coptic  Bishop. , 370 


CONTENTS.  xvii 

CHAPTER  XXII. 

ABYDUS    AND    CAIRO. 

Page. 
Last  Weeks  on  the  Nile — Spring  in  Egypt — Ninety-nine  in  the 
Shade — Samata — Unbroken  Donkeys — The  Plain  of  Aby- 
dus — Harvest-time — A  Biblical  Idyll — Arabatthe  Buried — 
Mena — Origin  of  the  Egyptian  People — Temple  of  Seti — 
New  Tablet  of  Abydus — Abydus  and  Teni — Kom-es-Sul- 
tan — Visit  to  a  Native  Aga — The  Hareem — Condition  of 
Women  in  Egypt — Back  at  Cairo — "In  the  Name  of  the 
Prophet,  Cakes!" — The  M61id-en-Nebee — A  Human  Cause- 
way— The  Boulak  Museum — Prince  Ra-hotep  and  Princess 
Nefer-t — Early  Drive  to  Ghizeh — Ascent  of  the  Great 
Pyramid — The  Sphinx — The  View  from  the  Top — The 
End 421 

APPENDIX. 

I.  A.*McCallurn,  Esq.,  to  the  Editor  of  The  Times 447 

II.  The  Egyption  Pantheon 447 

III.  The  Religious  Belief  of  the  Egyptians  450 

IV.  Egyptian  Chronology 452 

V.  Contemporary   Chronology   of   Egypt,    Mesopotamia    and 

Babylon 454 


LIST    OF    ILLUSTRATIONS. 


Page. 
The  Secret  of  tlie  Sphinx.     After  a  Painting  by  Elihu  Ved- 

der,  Esq x 

Head  of  Ti 57 

The  Shaduf 69 

Cleopatra * Ill 

Shrines  of  Osiris,  1,  2  and  3 205-206 

Resurrection  of  Osiris 207 

Cartouches  of  Rameses  the  Great 237 

Ranieses  the  Great  (Bay t -el-  Welly)   . 260 

Rameses  the  Great  (Abydus) 260 

Ranieses  the  Great  (Abou  Simbel) 260 

Profile  of   Rameses  II  (from  the  Southernmost  Colossus;  Abou 

Simbel) 261 

Ground-plan 307 

Pattern  of  Cornice 308 

Standard  of  Horus  Aroeris 309 

Rameses  II  of  Speos 311 

Temple  of  Amada  (Wall  Inscription) 313 

Heraldic  Inscription  (North  Wall  of  Speos) 317 

Goddess  Ta-ur-t  (Silsilis) 359 

Goddess  Ta-ur-t  (Phila?) 359 

Vases  and  Goblets  (Medinet  Habu) 385 

Prince  Ra-Hotep  and  Princess  Nefer-t 439 


A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER    I. 


CAIRO    AND   THE   GREAT   PYRAMID. 

It  is  the  traveler's  lot  to  dine  at  many  table-d'hotes  in 
the  course  of  many  wanderings;  but  it  seldom  befalls  him  to 
make  one  of  a  more  miscellaneous  gathering  than  that 
which  overfills  the  great  dining-room  at  Shepheard's 
Hotel  in  Cairo  during  the  beginning  and  height  of  the 
regular  Egyptian  season.  Here  assemble  daily  some  two 
to  three  hundred  persons  of  all  ranks,  nationalities,  and 
pursuits;  half  of  whom  are  Anglo-Indians  homeward  or 
outward  bound,  European  residents,  or  visitors  established 
in  Cairo  for  the  winter.  The  other  half,  it  may  be  taken 
for  granted,  are  going  up  the  Nile.  So  composite  and 
incongruous  is  this  body  of  Nile-goers,  young  and  old, 
well-dressed  and  ill-dressed,  learned  and  unlearned,  that 
the  new-comer's  first  impulse  is  to  inquire  from  what 
motives  so  many  persons  of  dissimilar  tastes  and  training 
can  be  led  to  embark  upon  an  expedition  which  is,  to  say 
the  least  of  it,  very  tedious,  very  costly,  and  of  an  alto- 
gether exceptional  interest. 

His  curiosity,  however,  is  soon  gratified.  Before  two 
days  are  over,  he  knows  everybody's  name  and  everybody's 
business ;  distinguishes  at  first  sight  between  a  Cook's 
tourist  and  an  independent  traveler;  and  has  discovered 
that  nine-tenths  of  those  whom  he  is  likely  to  meet  up  the 
river  are  English  or  American.  The  rest  will  be  mostly 
German,  with  a  sprinkling  of  Belgian  and  French.  So  far 
en  bloc;  but  the  details  are  more  heterogeneous  still.  Here 
are  invalids  in  search  of  health ;  artists  in  search  of 
subjects;  sportsmen  keen  upon  crocodiles;  statesmen  out 
for  a  holiday  :  special  correspondents  alert  for  gossip  ; 
collectors  on  the  scent  of  papyri  and  mummies;  men  of 


2  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

science  with  only  scientific  ends  in  view;  and  the  usual 
surplus  of  idlers  who  travel  for  the  mere  love  of  travel 
or  the  satisfaction  of  a  purposeless  curiosity. 

Now  in  a  place  like  Shepheard's,  where  every  fresh 
arrival  has  the  honor  of  contributing,  for  at  least  a  few 
minutes,  to  the  general  entertainment,  the  first  appearance 
of  L and  the  writer,  tired,  dusty,  and  considerably  sun- 
burned, may  well  have  given  rise  to  some  of  the  comments 
in  usual  circulation  at  those  crowded  tables.  People  asked 
each  other,  most  likely,  where  these  two  wandering 
Englishwomen  had  come  from;  why  they  had  not  dressed 
for  dinner;  what  brought  them  to  Egypt;  and  if  they  also 
were  going  up  the  Nile — to  which  questions  it  would  have 
been  easy  to  give  satisfactory  answers. 

"We  came  from  Alexandria,  having  had  a  rough  passage 
from  Brindisi,  followed  by  forty-eight  hours  of  quarantine. 
"We  had  not  dressed  for  dinner  because,  having  driven  on 
from  the  station  in  advance  of  dragoman  and  luggage,  we 
were  but  just  in  time  to  take  seats  with  the  rest.  We 
intended,  of  course,  to  go  up  the  Nile;  and  had  any  one 
ventured  to  inquire  in  so  many  words  what  brought  us  to 
Egypt,  we  should  have  replied:     "  Stress  of  weather." 

For  in  simple  truth  we  had  drifted  hither  by  accident, 
with  no  excuse  of  health,  or  business,  or  any  serious  object 
whatever;  and  had  just  taken  refuge  in  Egypt  as  one 
might  turn  aside  into  the  Burlington  Arcade  or  the 
Passage  des  Panoramas — to  get  out  of  the  rain. 

And  with  good  reason.  Having  left  home  early  in  Sep- 
tember for  a  few  weeks'  sketching  in  central  France,  we 
had  been  pursued  by  the  wettest  of  wet  weather.  "Washed 
out  of  the  hill  country,  we  fared  no  better  in  the  plains. 
At  Xismes  it  poured  for  a  month  without  stopping. 
Debating  at  last  whether  it  were  better  to  take  our  wet 
umbrellas  back  at  once  to  England,  or  push  on  farther 
still  in  search  of  sunshine,  the  talk  fell  upon  Algiers — 
Malta — Cairo;  and  Cairo  carried  it.  Never  was  distant 
expedition  entered  upon  with  less  premeditation!  The 
thing  was  no  sooner  decided  than  we  were  gone.  Nice, 
Genoa,  Bologna,  Ancona  flitted  by,  as  in  a  dream  ;  and 
Bedreddin  Hassan  when  he  awoke  at  the  gates  of  Damascus 
was  scarcely  more  surprised  than  the  writer  of  these  pages 
when  she  found  herself  on  board  of  the  Simla  and  steam- 
ing out  of  the  port  of  Brindisi. 


CAIRO  AND  THE  GREAT  PYRAMID.  3 

Here,  then,  without  definite  plans,  outfit,  or  any  kind  of 
oriental  experience,  behold  us  arrived  in  Cairo  on  the 
29th  of  November,  1873,  literally,  and  most  prosaically,  in 
search  of  fine  weather. 

But  what  had  memory  to  do  with  rains  on  land,  or 
storms  at  sea,  or  the  impatient  hours  of  quarantine,  or 
anything  dismal  or  disagreeable,  when  one  awoke  at  sun- 
rise to  see  those  gray-green  palms  outside  the  window 
solemnly  bowing  their  plumed  heads  toward  each  other, 
against  a  rose-colored  dawn?  It  was  dark  last  night,  and 
I  had  no  idea  that  my  room  overlooked  an  enchanted  gar- 
den, far-reaching  and  solitary,  peopled  with  stately  giants 
beneath  whose  tufted  crowns  hung  rich  clusters  of  maroon 
and  amber  dates.  It  was  a  still,  warm  morning.  Grave 
gray  and  black  crows  flew  heavily  from  tree  to  tree,  or 
perched,  cawing  meditatively,  upon  the  topmost  branches. 
Yonder,  between  the  pillared  stems,  rose  the  minaret  of  a 
very  distant  mosque  ;  and  here,  where  the  garden  was 
bounded  by  a  high  wall  and  a  windowless  house,  I  saw  a 
veiled  lady  walking  on  the  terraced  roof  in  the  midst  of  a 
cloud  of  pigeons.  Nothing  could  be  more  simple  than  the 
scene  and  its  accessories;  nothing,  at  the  same  time,  more 
eastern,  strange,  and  unreal. 

But  in  order  thoroughly  to  enjoy  an  overwhelming, 
ineffaceable  first  impression  of  oriental  out-of-door  life 
one  should  begin  in  Cairo  with  a  day  in  the  native  bazaars; 
neither  buying,  nor  sketching,  nor  seeking  information, 
but  just  taking  in  scene  after  scene,  with  its  manifold  com- 
binations of  light  and  shade,  color,  costume,  and  architect- 
ural detail.  Every  shop  front,  every  street  corner,  every 
turbaned  group  is  a  ready-made  picture.  The  old  Turk 
who  sets  up  his  cake  stall  in  the  recess  of  a  sculptured 
doorway;  the  donkey  boy,  with  his  gayly  caparisoned  ass, 
waiting  for  customers;  the  beggar  asleep  on  the  steps  of 
the  mosque;  the  veiled  woman  filling  her  water  jar  at  the 
public  fountain — they  all  look  as  if  they  had  been  put 
there  expressly  to  be  painted. 

Nor  is  the  background  less  picturesque  than  the  figures. 
The  houses  are  high  and  narrow.  The  upper  stories  pro- 
ject; and  from  these  again  jut  windows  of  delicate  turned 
lattice  work  in  old  brown  wood,  like  big  bird-cages.  The 
street  is  roofed  in  overhead  with  long  rafters  and  pieces  of 
matting,  through  Avhich  a  dusty  sunbeam   straggles  here 


4  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

and  there,  casting  patches  of  light  upon  the  moving 
crowd.  The  unpaved  thoroughfare — a  mere  narrow  lane, 
full  of  ruts  and  watered  profusely  twice  or  thrice  a  day — is 
lined  with  little  wooden  shop  fronts,  like  open  cabinets  full 
of  shelves,  where  the  merchants  sit  cross-legged  in  the 
midst  of  their  goods,  looking  out  at  the  passers-by  and 
smoking  in  silence.  Meanwhile,  the  crowd  ebbs  and  flows 
unceasingly  —  a  noisy,  changing,  restless,  party-colored 
tide,  half  European,  half  oriental,  on  foot,  on  horse- 
back, and  in  carriages.  Here  are  Syrian  dragomans  in 
baggy  trousers  and  braided  jackets;  barefooted  Egyptian 
fellaheen  in  ragged  blue  shirts  and  felt  skull-caps ; 
Greeks  in  absurdly  stiff  white  tunics,  like  walking 
pen-wipers ;  Persians  with  high  miter-like  caps  of  dark 
woven  stuff;  swarthy  Bedouins  in  flowing  garments,  creamy- 
white,  with  chocolate  stripes  a  foot  wide,  and  head-shawl 
of  the  same  bound  about  the  brow  with  a  fillet  of  twisted 
camel's  hair  ;  Englishmen  in  palm-leaf  hats  and  knicker- 
bockers, dangling  theirlong  legs  across  almost  invisible  don- 
keys ;  native  women  of  the  poorer  class,  in  black  veils  that 
leave  only  the  eyes  uncovered,  and  long  trailing  gar- 
ments of  dark  blue  and  black  striped  cotton;  der- 
vishes in  patchwork  coats,  their  matted  hair  streaming 
from  under  fantastic  head-dresses;  blue-black  Abyssinians 
with  incredibly  slender,  bowed  legs,  like  attenuated  ebony 
balustrades;  Armenian  priests,  looking  exactly  like  Portia 
as  the  doctor,  in  long  black  gowns  and  high  square  caps; 
majestic  ghosts  of  Algerine  Arabs,  all  in  white;  mounted 
Janissaries  with  jingling  sabers  and  gold-embroidered 
jackets;  merchants,  beggars,  soldiers,  boatmen,  laborers, 
workmen,  in  every  variety  of  costume,  and  of  every  shade 
of  complexion  from  fair  to  dark,  from  tawny  to  copper- 
color,  from  deepest  bronze  to  bluest  black. 

Now  a  water-carrier  goes  by,  bending  under  the  weight 
of  his  newly  replenished  goatskin,  the  legs  of  which  being 
tied  up,  the  neck  fitted  with  a  brass  cock,  and  the  hair  left 
on,  looks  horribly  bloated  and  life-like.  Now  conies  a 
sweetmeat-vender  with  a  tray  of  that  gummy  compound 
known  to  English  children  as  "  lumps  of  delight  ;  and 
now  an  Egyptian  lady  on  a  large  gray  donkey  led 
by  a  servant  with  a  showy  saber  at  his  side.  The 
lady  wears  a  rose-colored  silk  dress  and  white  veil,  be- 
sides a  black   silk  outer  garment,   which,    being   cloak, 


CAIRO  AND  THE  GREAT  PYRAMID.  5 

hood,  and  veil  all  in  one,  fills  out  with  the  wind  as  she 
rides,  like  a  balloon.  She  sits  astride;  her  naked  feet, 
in  their  violet  velvet  slippers,  just  resting  on  the  stirrups. 
She  takes  care  to  display  a  plump  brown  arm  laden  with 
massive  gold  bracelets,  and,  to  judge  by  the  way  in  which 
she  uses  a  pair  of  liquid  black  eyes,  would  not  be  sorry  to 
let  her  face  be  seen  also.  Nor  is  the  steed  less  well  dressed 
than  his  mistress.  His  close-shaven  legs  and  hindquarters 
are  painted  in  hlue  and  white  zigzags  picked  out  with  bands 
of  pale  yellow;  his  high-pommeled  saddle  is  resplendent 
with  velvet  and  embroidery;  and  his  head -gear  is  all  tags, 
tassels,  and  fringes.  Such  a  donkey  as  this  is  worth  from 
sixty  to  a  hundred  pounds  sterling.  Next  passes  an  open 
barouche  full  of  laughing  Englishwomen;  or  a  grave  pro- 
vincial sheik  all  in  black,  riding  a  handsome  bay  Arab, 
demi-sang;  or  an  Egyptian  gentleman  in  European  dress 
and  Turkish  fez,  driven  by  an  English  groom  in  an  En- 
glish phaeton.  Before  him,  wand  in  hand,  bare-legged, 
eager-eyed,  in  Greek  skull-cap  and  gorgeous  gold-embroi- 
dered waistcoat  and  fluttering  white  tunic,  flies  a  native 
sai's,  or  running  footman.  No  person  of  position  drives 
in  Cairo  without  one  or  two  of  these  attendants.  The 
sai's  (strong,  light  and  beautiful,  like  John  of  Bologna's 
Mercury)  are  said  to  die  young.  The  pace  kills  them. 
Next  passes  a  lemonade-seller,  with  his  tin  jar  in  one  hand 
and  his  decanter  and  brass  cups  in  the  other;  or  an  itiner- 
ant slipper-vender  with  a  bunch  of  red  and  yellow  morocco 
shoes  dangling  at  the  end  of  a  long  pole;  or  a  London- 
built  miniature  brougham  containing  two  ladies  in  trans- 
parent Turkish  veils,  preceded  by  a  Nubian  outrider  in 
semi-military  livery;  or,  perhaps,  a  train  of  camels,  ill- 
tempered  and  supercilious,  craning  their  scrannel  necks 
above  the  crowd,  and  laden  with  canvas  bales  scrawled  over 
with  Arabic  addresses. 

But  the  Egyptian,  Arab  and  Turkish  merchants,  whether 
mingling  in  the  general  tide  or  sitting  on  their  counters, 
are  the  most  picturesque  personages  in  all  this  busy  scene. 
They  wear  ample  turbans,  for  the  most  part  white;  long 
vests  of  striped  Syrian  silk  reaching  to  the  feet;  and  an 
outer  robe  of  braided  cloth  or  cashmere.  The  vest  is  con- 
fined round  the  waist  by  a  rich  sash  ;  and  the  outer  robe, 
or  gibbeh,  is  generally  of  some  beautiful  degraded  color, 
such  as  maize,  mulberry,  olive,  peach,  sea-green,  salmon- 


6  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

pink,  sienna-brown,  and  the  like.  That  these  stately 
beings  should  vulgarly  buy  and  sell,  instead  of  reposing  all 
their  lives  on  luxurious  divans  and  being  waited  upon  by 
beautiful  Circassians,  seems  altogether  contrary  to  the 
eternal  fitness  of  things.  Here,  for  instance,  is  a  grand 
vizier  in  a  gorgeous  white  and  amber  satin  vest,  who  con- 
descends to  retail  pipe-bowls — dull  red  clay  pipe-bowls  of 
all  sizes  and  prices.  He  sells  nothing  else,  and  has  not  only  a 
pile  of  them  on  the  counter,  but  abinful  at  the  back  of  his 
shop.  They  are  made  at  Siout,  in  Upper  Egypt,  and  may 
be  bought  at  the  Algerine  shops  in  London  almost  as 
cheaply  as  in  Cairo.  Another  majestic  pasha  deals  in 
brass  and  copper  vessels,  drinking-cups,  basins,  ewers, 
trays,  incense-burners,  chafing-dishes,  and  the  like;  some 
of  which  are  exquisitely  engraved  with  arabesque  patterns 
or  sentences  from  the  poets.  A  third  sells  silks  from  the 
looms  of  Lebanon  and  gold  and  silver  tissues  from  Damas- 
cus. Others,  again,  sell  old  arms,  old  porcelian,  old  em- 
broideries, second-hand  prayer-carpets,  and  quaint  little 
stools  and  cabinets  of  ebony  inlaid  with  mother-of-pearl. 
•Here,  too,  the  tobacco  merchant  sits  behind  a  huge  cake 
of  latakia  as  big  as  his  own  body;  and  the  sponge  mer- 
chant smokes  his  long  chibouk  in  a  bower  of  sponges. 

Most  amusing  of  all,  however,  are  those  bazaars  in 
which  each  trade  occupies  its  separate  quarter.  You  pass 
through  an  old  stone  gateway  or  down  a  narrow  turning, 
and  find  yourself  amid  a  colony  of  saddlers,  stitching, 
hammering,  punching,  riveting.  You  walk  up  one  alley 
and  down  another,  between  shop  fronts  hung  round  with 
tasseled  head-gear  and  hump-backed  saddles  of  all  qualities 
and  colors.  Here  .are  ladies'  saddles,  military  saddles, 
donkey  saddles,  and  saddles  for  great  officers  of  state; 
saddles  covered  with  red  leather,  with  crimson  and  violet 
velvet,  with  maroon,  and  gray,  and  purple  cloth  ;  saddles 
embroidered  with  gold  and  silver,  studded  with  brass- 
headed  nails,  or  trimmed  with  braid. 

Another  turn  or  two,  and  you  are  in  the  slipper  bazaar, 
walking  down  avenues  of  red"  and  yellow  morocco  slippers; 
the  former  of  home  manufacture,  the  latter  from  Tunis. 
Here  are  slippers  with  pointed  toes,  turned-up  toes,  and 
toes  as  round  and  flat  as  horseshoes;  walking  slippers 
with  thick  soles,  and  soft  yellow  slippers  to  be  worn  as 
inside  socks,  which   have  no  soles  at  all.     These  absurd 


CAIRO  AND  THE  GREAT  PYRAMID.  7 

little  scarlet  bluchers  with  tassels  are  for  little  boys;  the 
brown  morocco  shoes  are  for  grooms  ;  the  velvet  slippers 
embroidered  with  gold  and  beads  and  seed  pearls  are  for 
wealthy  hareens,  and  are  sold  at  prices  varying  from  five 
shillings  to  five  pounds  the  pair. 

The  carpet  bazaar  is  of  considerable  extent,  and  consists  of 
a  network  of  alleys  and   counter-alleys  opening  off  to  the 
right  of  the  Muski,  which  is  the  Regent  street  of  Cairo. 
The  houses  in  most  of  these  alleys  are    rich    in    antique 
lattice  windows  and  Saracenic  doorways.     One  little  square 
is  tapestried   all   round    with    Persian    and    Syrian   rugs, 
Damascus  saddle-bags,  and  Turkish  prayer-carpets.     The 
merchants  sit  and  smoke  in  the  midst  of  their  goods ;  and 
up  in  one  corner  an  old  "kahwagee,"  or  coffee-seller,  plies 
his  humble  trade.     He  has  set  up  his  little  stove  and  hang- 
ing-shelf  beside  the  doorway  of   a  dilapidated    khan,  the 
walls  of  which  are  faced  with  arabesque  panelings  infold 
carved  stone.     It  is  one  of  the  most  picturesque  "  bits  "  in 
Cairo.     The  striped  carpets  of  Tunis  ;  the  dim  gray  and 
blue,  or   gray  and    red   fabrics  of   Algiers;    the   shaggy 
rugs  of  Laodicea  and  Smyrna ;  the  rich   blues  and   greens 
and  subdued  reds  of  Turkey  ;  and  the  wonderfully  varied, 
harmonious   patterns   of    Persia,    have   each     their    local 
habitation  in  the  neighboring  alleys.     One  is  never   tired 
of  traversing  these    half-lighted   avenues   all    aglow  with 
gorgeous  color  and  peopled  with  figures  that  come   and  go 
like    the    actors    in    some    Christmas    piece    of    oriental 
pageantrv. 

In  the'Khan  Khaleel,  the  place  of  the  gold  and  silver 
smiths'  bazaar,  there  is  found,  on  the  contrary,  scarcely 
any  display  of  goods  for  sale.  The  alleys  are  so  narrow  m 
this  part  that  two  persons  can  with  difficulty  walk  in  them 
abreast ;  and  the  shops,  tinier  than  ever,  are  mere  cup- 
boards with  about  three  feet  of  frontage.  The  back  of  each 
cupboard  is  fitted  with  tiers  of  little  drawers  and  pigeon- 
holes, and  in  front  is  a  kind  of  matted  stone  step,  called  a 
mastabah,  which  serves  for  seat  and  counter.  The  customer 
sits  on  the  edge  of  the  mastabah  ;  the  merchant  squats, 
cross-legged,  inside.  In  this  position  he  can,  without 
rising,  take  out  drawer  after  drawer  ;  and  thus^  the  space 
between  the  two  becomes  piled  with  gold  and  silver  orna- 
ments. These  differ  from  each  other  only  in  the  metal, 
the  patterns  being  identical ;  and  they  are  sold  by  weight, 


8  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

with  a  due  margin  for  profit.  In  dealing  with  strangers 
who  do  not  understand  the  Egyptian  system  of  weights, 
silver  articles  are  commonly  weighed  against  rupees  or  five- 
franc  pieces,  and  gold  articles  against  napoleons  or 
sovereigns.  The  ornaments  made  in  Cairo  consist  chiefly 
of  chains  and  earrings,  anklets,  bangles,  necklaces  strung 
with  coins  or  tusk-shaped  pendants,  amulet-cases  of  filigree 
or  repousse  work,  and  penannular  bracelets  of  rude  exe- 
cution, but  rich  and  ancient  designs.  As  for  the  merchants 
their  civility  and  patience  are  inexhaustible.  One  may  turn 
over  their'whole  stock,  try  on  all  their  bracelets,  go  away 
again  and  again  without  buying,  and  yet  be  always  wel- 
comed and  dismissed  with  smiles.     L and   the   writer 

spent  many  an  hour  practicing  Arabic  in  the  Khan 
Khaleel,  without,  it  is  to  be  feared,  a  corresponding 
degree  of  benefit  to  the  merchants. 

There  are  many  other  special  bazaars  in  Cairo, 
as  the  sweetmeat  bazaar  ;  the  hardware  bazaar ; 
the  tobacco  bazaar ;  the  sword-mounters'  and  copper- 
smiths' bazaars ;  the  Moorish  bazaar,  where  fez  caps, 
burnouses  and  Barbary  goods  are  sold  ;  and  some 
extensive  bazaars  for  the  sale  of  English  and 
French  muslins  and  Manchester  cotton  goods ;  but 
these  last  are  for  the  most  part  of  inferior  interest.  Among 
certain  fabrics  manufactured  in  England  expressly  for  the 
eastern  market,  we  observed  a  most  hideous  printed  muslin 
representing  small  black  devils  capering  over  a  yellow 
ground,  and  we  learned  that  it  was  much  in  favor  for 
children's  dresses. 

But  the  bazaars,  however  picturesque,  are  far  from  being 
the  only  sights  of  Cairo.  There  are  mosques  in  plenty; 
grand  old  Saracenic  gates;  ancient  Coptic  churches;  the 
museum  of  Egyptian  antiquities;  and,  within  driving  dis- 
tance, the  tombs  of  the  Caliphs,  Heliopolis,  the  Pyramids 
and  the  Sphinx.  To  remember  in  what  order  the  present 
travelers  saw  these  things  would  now  be  impossible;  for 
they  lived  in  a  dream  and  were  at  first  too  bewildered  to 
catalogue  their  impressions  very  methodically.  Some 
places  they  were  for  the  present  obliged  to  dismiss  with 
only  a  passing  glance;  others  had  to  be  wholly  deferred  till 
their  return  to  Cairo. 

In  the  meanwhile,  our  first  business  was  to  look  at  daha- 
beeyahs;  and  the   looking  at   dahabeeyahs  compelled   us 


CAIRO  AND  THE  ORE  AT  PYRAMID.  9 

constantly  to  turn  our  steps  and  our  thoughts  in  the  direc- 
tion of  Boulak — a  desolate  place  by  the  river,  where  some 
two  or  three  hundred  Nile  boats  lay  moored  for  hire.  Now, 
most  persons  know  something  of  the  miseries  of  house- 
hunting, but  only  those  who  have  experienced  them  know 
how  much  keener  are  the  miseries  of  dahabeeyah-hunting.  It 
is  more  bewildering  and  more  fatiguing,  and  is  beset  by  its 
own  special  and  peculiar  difficulties.  The  boats,  in  the  first 
place,  are  all  built  on  the  same  plan,  which  is  not  the  case 
with  houses;  and,  except  as  they  run  bigger  or  smaller, 
cleaner  or  dirtier,  are  as  like  each  other  as  twin  oysters. 
The  same  may  be  said  of  their  captains,  with  the  same  dif- 
ferences; for,  to  a  person  who  has  been  only  a  few  days 
in  Egypt,  one  black  or  copper-colored  man  is  exactly  like 
every  other  black  or  copper-colored  man.  Then  each  rei's, 
or  captain,  displays  the  certificates  given  him  by  former 
travelers ;  and  these  certificates,  being  apparently  in 
active  circulation,  have  a  mysterious  way  of  turning 
up  again  and  again  on  board  different  boats  and  in  the 
hands  of  different  claimants.  Nor  is  this  all.  Dahabee- 
yahs  are  given  to  changing  their  places,  which  houses  do 
not  do;  so  that  the  boats  which  lay  yesterday  alongside 
the  eastern  bank  may  be  over  at  the  western  bank  to-day, 
or  hidden  in  the  midst  of  a  dozen  others  half  a  mile  lower 
down  the  river.  All  this  is  very  perplexing;  yet  it  is  as 
nothing  compared  with  the  state  of  confusion  one  gets  into 
when  attempting  to  weigh  the  advantages  or  disadvantages 
of  boats  with  six  cabins  and  boats  with  eight;  boats  pro- 
vided with  canteen,  and  boats  without;  boats  that  can  pass 
the  cataract,  and  boats  that  can't;  boats  that  are  only  twice 
as  dear  as  they  ought  to  be,  and  boats  with  that  defect  five 
orsix  times  multiplied.  Their  names,  again — ghazal,  sar- 
awa,  fostat,  dongola  —  unlike  any  names  one  has  ever 
heard  before,  afford  as  yet  no  kind  of  help  to  the 
memory.  Neither  do  the  names  of  their  captains;  for  they 
are  all  Mohammeds  or  Hassans.  Neither  do  their  prices; 
for  they  vary  from  day  to  day,  according  to  the  state  of 
the  market  as  shown  by  the  returns  of  arrivals  at  the  prin- 
cipal hotels. 

Add  to  all  this  the  fact  that  no  rei's  speaks  anything 
but  Arabic,  and  that  every  word  of  inquiry  or  negotiation 
has  to  be  filtered,  more  or  less  inaccurately,  through  a 
dragoman,  and  then  perhaps  those  who  have  not  yet  tried 


10  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

this  variety  of  the  pleasures  of  the  chase  may  be  able  to 
form  some  notion  of  the  weary,  hopeless,  puzzling  work 
which  lies  before  the  dahabeeyah-hunter  in  Cairo. 

Thus  it  came  to  pass  that,  for  the  first  ten  days  or  so, 
some  three  or  four  hours  had  to  be  devoted  every  morning 
to  the  business  of  the  boats;  at  the  end  of  which  time  we 
were  no  nearer  a  conclusion  than  at  first.  The  small  boats 
were  too  small  for  either  comfort  or  safety,  especially  in 
what  Nile  travelers  call  "  a  big  wind."  The  medium-sized 
boats  (which  lie  under  the  suspicion  of  being  used  in  sum- 
mer for  the  transport  of  cargo)  were  for  the  most  part  of 
doubtful  cleanliness.  The  largest  boats,  which  alone 
seemed  unexceptionable,  contained  from  eight  to  ten 
cabins,  besides  two  saloons,  and  were   obviously   too  large 

for  a  party  consisting  of  only  L ,  the  writer  and  a  maid. 

And  all  were  exorbitantly  dear.  Encompassed  by  these 
manifold  difficulties;  listening  now  to  this  and  now  to  that 
person's  opinion  ;  deliberating,  haggling,  comparing,  hesi- 
tating, we  vibrated  daily  between  Boulak  and  Cairo  and 
led  a  miserable  life.  Meanwhile,  however,  we  met  some 
former  acquaintances;  made  some  new  ones;  and  when 
not  too  tired  or  downhearted,  saw  what  we  could  of  the 
sights  of  Cairo — which  helped  a  little  to  soften  the  asperi- 
ties of  our  lot. 

One  of  our  first  excursions  was,  of  course,  to  the  pyramids, 
which  lie  within  an  hour  and  a  half's  easy  drive  from  the 
hotel  door.  We  started  immediately  after  an  early  luncheon, 
followed  an  excellent  road  all  the  way  and  were  back  in 
time  for  dinner  at  half-past  six.  But  it  must  be  under- 
stood that  we  did  not  go  to  see  the  pyramids.  We  went 
only  to  look  at  them.  Later  on  (having  meanwhile  been 
up  the  Nile  and  back  and  gone  through  months  of  train- 
ing), we  came  again,  not  only  with  due  leisure,  but  also 
with  some  practical  understanding  of  the  manifold  phases 
through  which  the  arts  and  architecture  of  Egypt  had 
passed  since  those  far-off  days  of  Cheops  and  Chephren. 
Then,  only,  we  can  be  said  to  have  seen  the  pyramids;  and 
till  we  arrive  at  that  stage  of  our  pilgrimage  it  will  be  well 
to  defer  everything  like  a  detailed  account  of  them  or  their 
surroundings.  Of  this  first  brief  visit,  enough,  therefore,  a 
brief  record. 

The  first  glimpse  that  most  travelers  now  get  of  the 
pyramids  is  from  the  window  of  the  railway  carriage  as 


CAIRO  AND  THE  GREAT  PYRAMID.  H 

they  come  from  Alexandria;  and  it  is  not  impressive.  It 
does  not  take  one's  breath  away,  for  instance,  like  a  first 
sight  of  the  Alps  from  the  high  level  of  the  Neufchatel 
line,  or  the  outline  of  the  Acropolis  at  Athens  as  one  first 
recognizes  it  from  the  sea.  The  well-known  triangular 
forms  look  small  and  shadowy,  and  are  too  familiar  to  be 
in  any  way  startling.  And  the  same,  I  think,  is  true  of 
every  distant  view  of  them — that  is,  of  every  view  which  is 
too  distant  to  afford  the  means  of  scaling  them  against 
other  objects.  It  is  only  in  approaching  them,  and  ob- 
serving how  they  grow  with  every  foot  of  the  road,  that 
one  begins  to  feel  they  are  not  so  familiar  after  all. 

But  when  at  last  the  edge  of  the  desert  is  reached,  and 
the  long  sand-slope  climbed,  and  the  rocky  platform 
gained,  and  the  great  pyramid  in  all  its  unexpected  bulk 
and  majesty  towers  close  above  one's  head,  the  effect  is  as 
sudden  as  it  is  overwhelming.  It  shuts  out  the  sky  and 
the  horizon.  It  shuts  out  all  the  other  pyramids.  It  shuts 
out  everything  but  the  sense  of  awe  and  wonder. 

Now,  too,  one  discovers  that  it  was  with  the  forms  of 
the  pyramids,  and  only  their  forms,  that  one  had  been  ac- 
quainted all  these  years  past.  Of  their  surface,  their  color, 
their  relative  position,  their  number  (to  say  nothing  of 
their  size),  one  had  hitherto  entertained  no  kind  of 
definite  idea.  The  most  careful  study  of  plans  and 
measurements,  the  clearest  photographs,  the  most  elabo- 
rate descriptions,  had  done  little  or  nothing,  after  all,  to 
make  one  know  the  place  beforehand.  This  undulating 
table-land  of  sand  and  rock,  pitted  with  open  graves  and 
cumbered  with  mounds  of  shapeless  masonry,  is  wholly 
unlike  the  desert  of  our  dreams.  The  pyramids  of  Cheops 
and  Chephren  are  bigger  than  we  had  expected;  the  pyra- 
mid of  Mycerinusis  smaller.  Here,  too,  are  nine  pyramids, 
instead  of  three.  They  are  all  entered  in  the  plans  and 
mentioned  in  the  guide-books;  but,  somehow,  one  is  un- 
prepared to  find  them  there,  and  cannot  help  looking  upon 
them  as  intruders.  These  six  extra  pyramids  are  small 
and  greatly  dilapidated.  One,  indeed,  is  little  more  than 
a  big  cairn. 

Even  the  great  pyramid  puzzles  us  with  an  unexpected 
sense  of  unlikeness.  We  all  know  and  have  known  from 
childhood,  that  it  was  stripped  of  its  outer  blocks  some 
five  hundred  years  ago  to  build  Arab  mosques  and  palaces; 


12  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

but  the  rugged,  rock-like  aspect  of  that  giant  staircase 
takes  us  by  surprise,  nevertheless.  Nor  does  it  look  like  a 
partial  ruin  either.  It  looks  as  if  it  had  been  left  un- 
finished, and  as  if  the  workmen  might  be  coming  back  to- 
morrow morning. 

The  color  again  is  a  surprise.  Few  persons  can  be  aware 
beforehand  of  the  rich  tawny  hue  that  Egyptian  limestone 
assumes  after  ages  of  exposure  to  the  blaze  of  an  Egyptian 
sky.  Seen  in  certain  lights,  the  pyramids  look  like  piles 
of  massy  gold. 

Having  but  one  hour  and  forty  minutes  to  spend  on  the 
spot,  we  resolutely  refused  on  this  first  occasion  to  be 
shown  anything,  or  told  anything,  or  to  be  taken  any- 
where— except,  indeed,  for  a  few  minutes  to  the  brink  of 
the  sand  hollow  in  which  the  Sphinx  lies  couchant.  We 
wished  to  give  our  whole  attention,  and  all  the  short  time 
at  our  disposal,  to  the  great  pyramid  only.  To  gain  some 
impression  of  the  outer  aspect  and  size  of  this  enormous 
structure — to  steady  our  minds  to  something  like  an  under- 
standing of  its  age — was  enough,  and  more  than  enough, 
for  so  brief  a  visit. 

For  it  is  no  easy  task  to  realize,  however  imperfectly, 
the  duration  of  six  or  seven  thousand  years;  and  the  great 
pyramid,  which  is  supposed  to  have  been  some  four  thou- 
sand two  hundred  and  odd  years  old  at  the  time  of  the 
birth  of  Christ,  is  now  in  its  seventh  millenary.  Stand- 
ing there  close  against  the  base  of  it;  touching  it;  measur- 
ing her  own  height  against  one  of  its  lowest  blocks;  looking 
up  all  the  stages  of  that  vast,  receding,  rugged  wall,  which 
leads  upward  like  an  Alpine  buttress  and  seems  almost  to 
touch  the  sky,  the  writer  suddenly  became  aware  that 
these  remote  dates  had  never  presented  themselves  to  her 
mind  until  this  moment  as  anything  but  abstract  numerals. 
Now,  for  the  first  time,  they  resolved  themselves  into 
something  concrete,  definite,  real.  They  were  no  longer 
figures,  but  years  with  their  changes  of  season,  their  high 
and  low  Niles,  their  seed-times  and  harvests.  The  con- 
sciousness of  that  moment  will  never,  perhaps,  quite  wear 
away.  It  was  as  if  one  had  been  snatched  up  for  an 
instant  to  some  vast  height  overlooking  the  plains  of  time, 
and  had  seen  the  centuries  mapped  out  beneath  one's  feet. 

To  appreciate  the  size  of  the  great  pyramid  is  less  diffi- 
cult than  to  apprehend  its  age.     No  one  who  has  walked 


CAIRO  AND  TIIU  Gil  BAT  PYRAMID. 


13 


the  length  of  one  side,  climbed  to  the  top,  and  learned  the 
dimensions  from  Murray,  can  fail  to  form  a  tolerably  clear 
idea  of  its  mere  bnlk.  The  measurements  given  by  Sir 
Gardner  Wilkinson  are  as  follows:  Length  of  each  side, 
732  feet;  perpendicular  height,  480  feet  9  inches;  area, 
535,824  square  feet.*  That  is  to  say  it  stands  115  feet  9 
inches  higher  than  the  cross  on  the  top  of  St.  Paul's  and 
about  20  feet  lower  than  Box  Hill  in  Surrey;  and  if  trans- 
ported bodily  to  London,  it  would  a  little  more  than  cover 
the  whole  area  of  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields.  These  are  suffi- 
ciently matter-of-fact  statements  and  sufficiently  intelligi- 
ble; but,  like  most  calculations  of  the  kind,  they  diminish 
rather  than  do  justice  to  the  dignity  of  the  subject. 

More  impressive  by  far  than  the  weightiest  array  of  fig- 
ures or  the  most  striking  comparisons,  was  the  shadow  cast 
by  the  great  pyramid  as  the  sun  went  down.  That  mighty 
shadow,  sharp  and  distinct,  stretched  across  the  stony 
platform  of  the  desert  and  over  full  three  quarters  of  a 
mile  of  the  green  plain  below.  It  divided  the  sunlight 
where  it  fell,  just  as  its  great  original  divided  the  sunlight 

*  Since  the  first  edition  of  this  book  was  issued,  the  publication  of 
Mr.  W.  M.  Flinders  Petrie's  standard  work,  entitled  "  The  Pyramids 
and  Temples  of  (iizeh,"  has  for  the  first  time  placed  a  thoroughly  accu- 
rate and  scientific  description  of  the  great  pyramid  at  the  disposal 
of  students.  Calculating  from  the  rock-cut  sockets  at  the  four 
corners,  and  from  the  true  level  of  the  pavement,  Mr.  Petrie  finds 
that  the  square  of  the  original  base  of  the  structure,  in  inches,  is  of 
these  dimensions: 


Difference 
from  Mean. 


Azimuth. 


Difference 

from  Mean. 


N. 

9069.4 

+ 

.6 

—  3'  20" 

+ 

23" 

E. 

9067.7 

_ 

1.1 

—  3'  57" 

14" 

S. 

9069.5 

+ 

—  3'  41" 

+ 

2" 

w. 

9068.6 

.2 

—  3'  54" 

11" 

Mean. 

9068.8 

.65 

—  3'  43" 

12" 

For  the  height,  Mr.  Petrie,  after  duly  weighing  all  data,  such  as 
the  thickness  of  the  three  casing-stones  yet  in  situ,  and  the  pre- 
sumed thickness  of  those  which  formerly  faced  the  upper  courses  of 
the  masonry,  gives  from  his  observations  of  the  mean  angle  of  the 
pyramid,  a  height  from  base  to  apex  of  5776.0  +  7.0  inches.  See 
"The  Pyramids  and  Temples  of  Gizeh,"  chap.  vi.  pp.  37-43.  [Note 
to  the  second  edition.] 


14  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

in  the  upper  air;  and  it  darkened  the  space  it  covered, 
like  an  eclijise.  It  was  not  without  a  thrill  of  something 
approaching  to  awe  that  one  remembered  hew  this  self- 
same shadow  had  gone  on  registering  not  only  the  height 
of  the  most  stupendous  gnomon  ever  set  up  by  human 
hands,  but  the  slow  passage  day  by  day  of  more  than  sixty 
centuries  of  the  world's  history. 

It  was  still  lengthening  over  the  landscape  as  we  went 
down  the  long  sand-slope  and  regained  the  carriage.  Some 
six  or  eight  Arabs  in  fluttering  white  garments  ran  on 
ahead  to  bid  us  a  last  good-by.  That  we  should  have 
driven  over  from  Cairo  only  to  sit  quietly  down  and  look 
at  the  great  pyramid  had  filled  them  with  unfeigned  aston- 
ishment. With  such  energy  and  dispatch  as  the  modern 
traveler  uses,  we  might  have  been  to  the  top  and  seen  the 
temple  of  the  Sphinx  and  done  two  or  three  of  the  prin- 
cipal tombs  in  the  time. 

"  You  come  again!"  said  they.  "  Good  Arab  show 
you  everything.     You  see  nothing  this  time!" 

So,  promising  to  return  ere  long,  we  drove  away; 
well  content,  nevertheless,  with  the  way  in  which  our 
time  had  been  spent. 

The  pyramid  Bedouins  have  been  plentifully  abused  by 
travelers  and  guide-books,  but  we  found  no  reason  to 
complain  of  them  now  or  afterward.  They  neither  crowded 
round  us,  nor  followed  us,  nor  importuned  us  in  any  way. 
They  are  naturally  vivacious  and  very  talkative  ;  yet  the 
gentle  fellows  were  dumb  as  mutes  when  they  found  we 
wished  for  silence.  And  they  were  satisfied  with  a  very 
moderate  bakhshish  at  parting. 

As  a  fitting  sequel  to  this  excursion,  we  went,  I  think 
next  day,  to  see  the  mosque  of  Sultan  Hassan,  which  is 
one  of  those  mediaeval  structures  said  to  have  been  built 
with  the  casing-stones  of  the  great  pyramid.  . 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  15 


CHAPTER   II. 

CAIRO   AND   THE    MECCA    PILGRIMAGE. 

The  mosque  of  Sultan  Hassan,  confessedly  the  most 
beautiful  iu  Cairo,  is  also  perhaps  the  most  beautiful  in  the 
Moslem  world.  It  was  built  at  just  that  happy  moment 
when  Arabian  art  in  Egypt,  having  ceased  merely  to  appro- 
priate or  imitate,  had  at  length  evolved  an  original  archi- 
tectural style  out  of  the  heterogeneous  elements  of  Roman 
and  early  Christian  edifices.  The  mosques  of  a  few  cent- 
uries earlier  (as,  for  instance,  that  of  Tulun,  which 
marks  the  first  departure  from  the  old  Byzantine  model) 
consisted  of  little  more  than  a  court-yard  with  colonnades 
leading  to  a  hall  supported  on  a  forest  of  pillars.  A  little 
more  than  a  century  later,  and  the  national  style  had 
already  experienced  the  beginnings  of  that  prolonged 
eclipse  which  finally  resulted  in  the  bastard  Neo-ByzantiiiR 
renaissance  represented  by  the  mosque  of  Mehemet  All. 
But  the  mosque  of  Sultan  Hassan,  built  ninety-seven 
years  before  the  taking  of  Constantinople,  may  justly  be 
regarded  as  the  highest  point  reached  by  Saracenic  art  in 
Egypt  after  it  had  used  up  the  Greek  and  Roman  material 
of  Memphis,  and  before  its  new-born  originality  became 
modified  by  influences  from  beyond  the  Bosporus.  Its 
pre-eminence  is  due  neither  to  the  greatness  of  its  dimen- 
sions nor  to  the  splendor  of  its  materials.  It  is  neither  so 
large  as  the  great  mosque  at  Damascus,  nor  so  rich  in 
costly  marbles  as  Saint  Sophia  in  Constantinople;  but  iu 
design,  proportion,  and  a  certain  lofty  grace  impossible  to 
describe,  it  surpasses  these,  and  every  other  mosque, 
whether  original  or  adapted,  with  which  the  writer  is 
acquainted. 

The  whole  structure  is  purely  national.  Every  line  and 
curve  in  it,  and  every  inch  of  detail,  is  in  the  best  style  of 
the  best  period  of  the  Arabian  school.  And  above  all,  it 
was  designed  expressly  for  its  present  purpose.     The   two 


16  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

famous  mosques  of  Damascus  and  Constantinople  having, 
on  the  contrary,  been  Christian  churches,  betray  evidences 
of  adaptation.  In  Saint  Sophia,  the  space  once  occupied 
by  the  figure  of  the  Eedeemer  may  be  distinctly  traced  in 
the  mosaic  work  of  the  apsis,  filled  in  with  gold  tesserae  of 
later  date ;  while  the  magnificent  gates  of  the  great 
mosque  at  Damascus  are  decorated,  among  other  Christian 
emblems,  with  the  sacramental  chalice.  But  the  mosque 
of  Sultan  Hassan,  built  by  En  Nasir  Hassan  in  the  high 
and  palmy  days  of  the  Memlook  rule,  is  marred  by  no 
discrepancies.  For  a  mosque  it  was  designed,  and  a 
mosque  it  remains.  Too  soon  it  will  be  only  a  beautiful 
ruin. 

A  number  of  small  streets  having  lately  been  demolished 
in  this  quarter,  the  approach  to  the  mosque  lies  across  a 
desolate  open  space  littered  with  debris,  but  destined  to  be 
laid  out  as  a  public  square.  With  this  desirable  end  in 
view,  some  half-dozen  workmen  were  lazily  loading  as 
many  camels  with  rubble,  which  is  the  Arab  way  of  cart- 
ing rubbish.  If  they  persevere,  and  the  minister  of  pub- 
lic works  continues  to  pay  their  wages  with  due  punctu- 
ality, the  ground  will  perhaps  get  cleared  in  eight  or  ten 
years'  time. 

Driving  up  with  some  difficulty  to  the  foot  of  the  great 
steps,  which  were  crowded  with  idlers  smoking  and  sleep- 
ing, we  observed  a  long  and  apparently  fast-widening 
fissure  reaching  nearly  from  top  to  bottom  of  the  main 
wall  of  the  building,  close  against  the  minaret.  It  looked 
like  just  such  a  rent  as  might  be  caused  by  a  shock  of 
earthquake,  and,  being  still  new  to  the  east,  we  wondered 
the  government  had  not  set  to  work  to  mend  it.  We  had 
yet  to  learn  that  nothing  is  ever  mended  in  Cairo.  Here, 
as  in  Constantinople,  new  buildings  spring  up  apace,  but 
the  old,  no  matter  how  venerable,  are  allowed  to  molder 
away,  inch  by  inch,  till  nothing  remains  but  a  heap  of 
ruins. 

Going  up  the  steps  and  through  a  lofty  hall,  up  some 
more  steps  and  along  a  gloomy  corridor,  we  came  to  the 
great  court,  before  entering  which,  however,  we  had  to 
take  off  our  boots  and  put  on  slippers  brought  for  the 
purpose.  The  first  sight  of  this  court  is  an  architectural 
surprise.  It  is  like  nothing  one  has  seen  before,  and  its 
beauty  equals  its  novelty.     Imagine   an    immense    marble 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA   PILGRIMAGE.  17 

quadrangle,  open  to  the  sky  and  inclosed  within  lofty  walls, 
with,  at  each  side,  a  vast  recess  framed  in  by  a  single  arch. 
The  quadrangle  is  more  than  one  hundred  feet  square,  and 
the  walls  are  more  than  one  hundred  feet  high.  Each 
recess  forms  a  spacious  hall  for  rest  and  prayer,  and  all  are 
matted;  but  that  at  the  eastern  end  is  wider  and  consider- 
ably deeper  than  the  other  three,  and  the  noble  arch  that 
incloses  it  like  the  proscenium  of  a  splendid  stage,  meas- 
ures, according  to  Fergusson,  sixty-nine  feet  five  inches  in 
the  span.  It  looks  much  larger.  This  principal  hall,  the 
floor  of  which  is  raised  one  step  at  the  upper  end,  measures 
ninety  feet  in  depth  and  ninety  in  height.  The  dais  is 
covered  with  prayer-rugs,  and  contains  the  holy  niche  and 
the  pulpit  of  the  preacher.  We  observed  that  those  who 
came  up  here  came  only  to  pray.  Having  prayed,  they 
either  went  away  or  turned  aside  into  one  of  the  other 
recesses  to  rest.  There  was  a  charming  fountain  in  the 
court  with  a  dome  roof  as  light  and  fragile  looking  as  a 
big  bubble,  at  which  each  worshiper  performed  his  ablu- 
tions on  coming  in.  This  done,  he  left  his  slippers  on  the 
matting  and  trod  the  carpeted  dais  barefoot. 

This  was  the  first  time  we  had  seen  moslems  at  prayer, 
and  we  could  not  but  be  impressed  by  their  profound  and 
unaffected  devotion.  Some  lay  prostrate,  their  foreheads 
touching  the  ground  ;  others  were  kneeling  ;  others  bowing 
in  the  prescribed  attitudes  of  prayer.  So  absorbed  were 
they,  that  not  even  our  unhallowed  presence  seemed  to 
disturb  them.  We  did  not  then  know  that  the  pious  mos- 
leni  is  as  devout  out  of  the  mosque  as  in  it ;  or  that  it  is 
his  habit  to  pray  when  the  appointed  hours  come  round, 
no  matter  where  he  may  be,  or  how  occupied.  We  soon 
became  so  familiar,  however,  with  this  obvious  trait  of 
Mohammedan  life,  that  it  seemed  quite  a  matter  of  course 
that  the  camel-driver  should  dismount  and  lay  his  fore- 
head in  the  dust  by  the  roadside  ;  or  the  merchant  spread 
his  prayer-carpet  on  the  narrow  mastabah  of  his  little  shop 
in  the  public  bazaar  ;  or  the  boatman  prostrate  himself 
with  his  face  to  the  east,  as  the  sun  went  down  behind  the 
hills  of  the  Libyan  desert. 

While  we  were  admiring  the  spring  of  the  roof  and  the 
intricate  arabesque  decorations  of  the  pulpit,  a  custode 
came  up  with  a  big  key  and  invited  us  to  visit  the  tomb  of 
the  founder,      So   we  followed   him   into  an   enormous 


18  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

vaulted  hall  a  hundred  feet  square,  in  the  center  of  which 
stood  a  plain,  railed-off  tomb,  with  an  empty  iron-bound 
coffer  at  the  foot.  We  afterward  learned  that  for  five 
hundred  years — that  is  to  say,  ever  since  the  death  and 
burial  of  Sultan  Hassan  —  this  coffer  had  contained  a  fine 
copy  of  the  Koran,  traditionally  said  to  have  been  written 
by  Sultan  Hassan's  own  hand  ;  but  that  the  khedive,  who 
is  collecting  choice  and  antique  Arabic  manuscripts,  had 
only  the  other  day  sent  an  order  for  its  removal. 

Nothing  can  be  bolder  or  more  elegant  than  the  propor- 
tions of  this  noble  sepulchral  hall,  the  walls  of  which  are 
covered  with  tracery  in  low  relief  incrusted  with  disks  and 
tesserae  of  turquoise-colored  porcelain;  while  high  up,  in 
order  to  lead  off  the  vaulting  of  the  roof,  the  corners  are 
rounded  by  means  of  recessed  clusters  of  exquisite  arabesque 
woodwork,  like  pendent  stalactites.  But  the  tesserae 
are  fast  falling  out,  and  most  of  their  places  are 
vacant;  and  the  beautiful  woodwork  hangs  in  fragments, 
tattered  and  cobwebbed,  like  time-worn  banners,  which  the 
first  touch  of  a  brush  would  bring  down. 

Going  back  again  from  the  tomb  to  the  court-yard,  we 
everywhere  observed  traces  of  the  same  dilapidation.  The 
fountain,  once  a  miracle  of  Saracenic  ornament,  was  fast 
going  to  destruction.  The  rich  marbles  of  its  basement 
were  cracked  and  discolored,  its  stuccoed  cupola  was  flak- 
ing off  piecemeal,  its  enamels  were  dropping  out,  its  lace- 
like wood  tracery  shredding  away  by  inches. 

Presently  a  tiny  brown  and  golden  bird  perched  with 
pretty  confidence  on  the  brink  of  the  basin,  and  hav- 
ing splashed,  and  drunk,  and  preened  its  feathers  like  a 
true  believer  at  his  ablutions,  flew  up  to  the  top  of  the 
cupola  and  sang  deliciously.  All  else  was  profoundly 
still.  Large  spaces  of  light  and  shadow  divided  the  quad- 
rangle. The  sky  showed  overhead  as  a  square  opening  of 
burning  solid  blue;  while  here  and  there,  reclining,  pray- 
ing, or  quietly  occupied,  a  number  of  turbaned  figures 
were  picturesquely  scattered  over  the  matted  floors  of  the 
open  halls  around.  Yonder  sat  a  tailor  cross-legged,  mak- 
ing a  waistcoat ;  near  him,  stretched  on  his  face  at  full 
length,  sprawled  a  basket-maker  with  his  half- woven 
basket  and  bundle  of  rushes  beside  him  ;  and  here,  close 
against  the  main  entrance,  lay  a  blind  man  and  his  dog; 
the  master  asleep,  the  dog  keeping   watch.     It  was,  as  I 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  \\) 

have  said,  our  first  mosque,  and  I  well  remember  the  sur- 
prise with  which  Ave  saw  that  tailor  sewing  on  his  buttons 
and  the  sleepers  lying  about  in  the  shade.  We  did  not 
then  know  that  a  Mohammedan  mosque  is  as  much  a  place 
of  rest  and  refuge  as  of  prayer  ;  or  that  the  houseless  Arab 
may  take  shelter  there  by  night  or  day  as  freely  as  the 
birds  may  build  their  nests  in  the  cornice,  or  as  the  blind 
man's  dog  may  share  the  cool  shade  with  his  sleeping 
master. 

From  the  mosque  of  this  Memlook  sovereign  it  is  but  a 
few  minutes'  uphill  drive  to  the  mosque  of  Mehemet  Ali, 
by  whose  orders  the  last  of  that  royal  race  were  massacred 
just  sixty-four  years  ago.*  This  mosque,  built  within  the 
precincts  of  the  citadel  on  a  spur  of  the  Mokattam  Hills 
overlooking  the  city,  is  the  most  conspicuous  object  in 
Cairo.  Its  attenuated  minarets  and  clustered  domes  show 
from  every  point  of  view  for  miles  around,  and  remain 
longer  in  sight,  as  one  leaves,  or  returns  to,  Cairo,  than 
any  other  landmark.  It  is  a  spacious,  costly,  gaudy,  com- 
monplace building,  with  nothing  really  beautiful  about  it. 
except  the  great  marble  court-yard  and  fountain.  Tho 
inside,  which  is  entirely  built  of  oriental  alabaster,  is  car- 
peted with  magnificent  Turkey  carpets  and  hung  with  in- 
numerable cut-glass  chandeliers,  so  that  it  looks  like  a 
huge  vulgar  drawing-room  from  which  the  furniture  has 
been  cleared  out  for  dancing. 

The  view  from  the  outer  platform  is,  however,  magnifi- 
cent. AVe  saw  it  on  a  hazy  day,  and  could  not  therefore 
distinguish  the  point  of  the  delta,  which  ought  to  have 
been  visible  on  the  north  ;  but  we  could  plainly  see  as  far 
southward  as  the  pyramids  of  Sakkarah,  and  trace  the 
windings  of  the  Kile  for  many  miles  across  the  plain. 
The  pyramids  of  Ghizeh,  on  their  dais  of  desert  rock 
about  twelve  miles  off,  looked,  as  they  always  do  look 
from  a  distance,  small  and  unimpressive  ;  but  the  great 
alluvial  valley  dotted  over  with  mud  villages  and  inter- 
sected by  canals  and  tracts  of  palm  forest  ;  the  shining 
river  specked  with  sails  ;  and  the  wonderful  city,  all  flat 
roofs,  cupolas,  and  minarets,  spread  out  like  an  intricate 
model  at  one's  feet,  were  full  of  interest  and  absorbed  our 

*  Now,  seventy-seven  years  ago  ;  the  first  edition  of  this  book 
having  been  published  thirteen  years  ago.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


20  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUB  NILE. 

whole  attention.  Looking  down  upon  it  from  this  eleva- 
tion, it  is  as  easy  to  believe  that  Cairo  contains  four  hun- 
dred mosques,  as  it  is  to  stand  on  the  brow  of  the  Pincio 
and  believe  in  the  three  hundred  and  sixty-five  churches 
of  modern  Rome. 

As  we  came  away,  they  showed  us  the  place  in  which  the 
MemloDk  nobles,  four  hundred  and  seventy*  in  number, 
were  shot  down  like  mad-dogs  in  a  trap,  that  fatal  first  of 
March,  a.d.  1811.  We  saw  the  upper  gate  which  was  shut 
behind  them  as  they  came  out  from  the  presence  of  the 
pasha,  and  the  lower  gate  which  was  shut  before  them  to 
prevent  their  egress.  The  walls  of  the  narrow  roadway  in 
which  the  slaughter  was  done  are  said  to  be  pitted  with 
bullet  marks;  but  we  would  not  look  for  them. 

I  have  already  said  that  I  do  not  very  distinctly  re- 
member the  order  of  our  sight-seeing  in  Cairo,  for  the 
reason  that  we  saw  some  places  before  we  went  up  the 
river,  some  after  we  came  back,  and  some  (as  for  instance 
the  museum  at  Boulak)  both  before  and  after,  and  indeed 
as  often  as  possible.  But  I  am  at  least  quite  certain  that 
we  witnessed  a  performance  of  howling  dervishes,  and  the 
departure  of  the  caravan  for  Mecca,  before  starting. 

Of  all  the  things  that  people  do  by  way  of  pleasure,  the 
pursuit  of  a  procession  is  surely  one  of  the  most  wearisome. 
They  generally  go  a  long  way  to  see  it;  they  wait  a  weary 
time;  it  is  always  late;  and  when  at  length  it  does  come,  it 
is  over  in  a  few  minutes.  The  present  pageant  fulfilled  all 
these  conditions  in  a  superlative  degree.  We  breakfasted 
uncomfortably  early,  started  soon  after  half-past  seven,  and 
had  taken  up  our  position  outside  the  Bab  en-Xasr,  on  the 
way  to  the  desert,  by  half-past  eight.  Here  we  sat  for 
nearly  three  hours,  exposed  to  clouds  of  dust  and  a  burning 
sun,  with  nothing  to  do  but  to  watch  the  crowd  and  wait 
patiently.  All  Shepheard's  Hotel  were  there,  and  every 
stranger  in  Cairo;  and  we  all  had  smart  open  carriages 
drawn  by  miserable  screws  and  driven  by  bare-legged  Arabs. 
These    Arabs,   by  the  way,  are   excellent  whips,  and    the 

*  One  only  is  said  to  have  escaped — a  certain  Emin  Bey,  who  leaped 
his  horse  over  a  gap  in  the  wall,  alighted  safely  in  the  piazza  below, 
and  galloped  away  into  the  desert.  The  place  of  this  famous  leap 
continued  to  be  shown  for  many  years,  but  there  are  no  gaps  in  the 
wall  now,  the  citadel  being  the  only  place  in  Cairo  which  is  kept  in 
thorough  repair. 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  21 

screws  get  along  wonderfully;  but  it  seems  odd  at  first,  and 
not  a  little  humiliating,  to  be  whirled  along  behind  a 
coachman  whose  oidy  livery  consists  of  a  rag  of  dirty  white 
turban,  a  scant  tunic  just  reaching  to  his  knees,  and  the 
top  boots  with  which  nature  has  provided  him. 

Here,  outside  the  walls,  the  crowd  increased  momentarily. 
The  place  was  like  a  fair  with  provision  stalls,  swings, 
story-tellers,  serpent-charmers,  cake-sellers,  sweetmeat- 
sellers,  sellers  of  sherbet,  water,  lemonade,  sugared  nuts, 
fresh  dates,  hard-boiled  eggs,  oranges  and  sliced  water- 
melon. Veiled  women  carrying  little  bronze  Cupids  of 
children  astride  upon  the  right  shoulder,  swarthy 
Egyptians,  coal-black  Abyssinians,  xVmbs  and  Nubians  of 
every  shade  from  golden-brown  to  chocolate,  fellahs,  der- 
vishes, donkey  boys,  street  urchins  and  beggars  with  every 
imaginable  deformity,  came  and  went ;  squeezed  them- 
selves in  and  out  among  the  carriages;  lined  the  road  on 
each  side  of  the  great  towered  gateway;  swarmed  on  the 
top  of  every  wall;  and  filled  the  air  with  laughter,  a  babel 
of  dialects,  and  those  of  Araby  that  are  inseparable  from 
an  eastern  crowd.  A  harmless,  unsavory,  good-humored, 
inoffensive  throng,  one  glance  at  which  was  enough  to  put 
to  flight  all  one's  preconceived  notions  about  oriental 
gravity  of  demeanor!  For  the  truth  is  that  gravity  is  by 
no  means  an  oriental  characteristic.  Take  a  Moham- 
medan at  his  devotions,  and  he  is  a  model  of  religious  ab- 
straction; bargain  with  him  for  a  carpet,  and  he  is  as 
impenetrable  as  a  judge;  but  see  him  in  his  hours  of  re- 
laxation, or  on  the  occasion  of  a  public  holiday,  and  he  is 
as  garrulous  and  full  of  laughter  as  a  big  child.  Like  a 
child,  too,  he  loves  noise  and  movement  for  the  mere  sake 
of  noise  and  movement,  and  looks  upon  swings  and  fire- 
works as  the  height  of  human  felicity.  Now  swings  and 
fire-works  are  Arabic  for  bread  and  circuses,  and  our  pleb's 
passion  for  them  is  insatiable.  He  not  only  indulges  in 
them  upon  every  occasion  of  public  rejoicing,  but  calls  in 
their  aid  to  celebrate  the  most  solemn  festivals  of  his 
religion.  It  so  happened  that  we  afterward  came  in  the 
way  of  several  Mohammedan  festivals  both  in  Egypt  and 
Syria,  and  we  invariably  found  the  swings  at  work  all  day 
and  the  fire-works  going  off  every  evening. 

To-day  the  swings  outside  the  Bab  en-Nasr  were  never 
idle.     Here  were  creaking  Russian  swings  hung  with  little 


22  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUE  NILE. 

painted  chariots  for  the  children;  and  plain  rope  swings, 
some  of  them  as  high  as  Hainan's  gallows,  for  the  men. 
For  my  own  part,  I  know  no  sight  more  comic  and  incon- 
gruous than  the  serene  enjoyment  with  which  a  bearded, 
turbaned,  middle-aged  Egyptian  squats  upon  his  heels  on 
the  tiny  wooden  seat  of  one  of  these  enormous  swings,  and, 
holding  on  to  the  side-ropes  for  dear  life,  goes  careering  up 
forty  feet  high  into  the  air  at  every  turn. 

At  a  little  before  midday,  when  the  heat  and  glare  were 
becoming  intolerable,  the  swings  suddenly  ceased  going, 
the  crowd  surged  in  the  direction  of  the  gate,  and  a  distant 
drumming  announced  the  approach  of  the  procession. 
First  came  a  string  of  baggage-camels  laden  with  tent  fur- 
niture; then  some  two  hundred  pilgrims  on  foot,  chanting 
passages  from  the  Koran;  then  a  regiment  of  Egyptian  in- 
fantry, the  men  in  a  coarse  white  linen  uniform,  consisting 
of  coat,  baggy  trousers  and  gaiters,  with  cross-belts  and 
cartouche-boxes  of  plain  black  leather,  and  the  red  fez,  or 
tarboosh,  on  the  head.  Next  after  these  came  more  pil- 
grims, followed  by  a  body  of  dervishes  carrying  green  ban- 
ners embroidered  with  Arabic  sentences  in  white  and  yel- 
low; then  a  native  cavalry  regiment  headed  by  a  general 
and  four  colonels  in  magnificent  gold  embroidery  and  pre- 
ceded by  an  excellent  military  band;  then  another  band 
and  a  second  regiment  of  infantry;  then  more  colonels, 
followed  by  a  regiment  of  lancers  mounted  on  capital  gray 
horses  and  carrying  lances  topped  with  small  red  and 
green  pennants.  After  these  had  gone  by  there  was  a  long 
stoppage,  and  then,  with  endless  breaks  and  interruptions, 
came  a  straggling,  irregular  crowd  of  pilgrims,  chiefly  of 
the  fellah  class,  beating  small  darabukkehs,  or  native 
drums.  Those  about  us  estimated  their  number  at  two 
thousand.  And  now,  their  guttural  chorus  audible  long 
before  they  arrived  in  sight,  came  the  howling  dervishes — 
a  ragged,  wild-looking,  ruffianly  set,  rolling  their  heads 
from  side  to  side,  and  keeping  up  a  hoarse,  incessant  cry 
of  "  Allah!  Allah!  Allah!"  Of  these  there  may  have  been 
a  couple  of  hundred.  The  sheiks  of  the  principal  order 
of  dervishes  came  next  in  order,  superbly  dressed  in  robes 
of  brilliant  colors  embroidered  with  gold  and  mounted  on 
magnificent  Arabs.  Finest  of  all,  in  a  green  turban  and 
scarlet  mantle,  rode  the  Sheik  of  Hasaneyn,  who  is  a  de- 
scendant   of    the   prophet;  but   the    most  important,  the 


CAIRO  AND  THIS  MECCA   PILGRIMAGE.  ;>:) 

Sheik  el  Bekree,  who  is  a,  sort  of  Egyptian  Archbishop 
of  Canterbury,  and  head  of  all  the  dervishes,  came  last, 
riding  a  white  Arab  with  gold-embroidered  housings,  lie 
was  a  placid-looking  old  man,  and  wore  a  violet  robe  and 
an  enormous  red  and  green  turban. 

This  very  reverend  personage  was  closely  followed  by  the 
chief  of  the  carpet-makers' guild — a  handsome  man,  sitting 
sidewise  on  a  camel. 

Then  happened  another  break  in  the  procession  — 
an  eager  pause  —  a  gathering  murmur.  And  then, 
riding  a  gaunt  dromedary  at  a  rapid  trot,  his  fat 
sides  shaking  and  his  head  rolling  in  a  drunken  way 
at  every  step,  appeared  a  bloated,  half-naked  Silenus, 
with  long  fuzzy  black  locks  and  triple  chin,  and  no 
other  clothing  than  a  pair  of  short  white  drawers  and 
red  slippers.  A  shiver  of  delight  ran  through  the  crowd 
at  sight  of  this  holy  man  —  the  famous  Sheik  of  the 
Camel  (Sheik  el-Gemel),  the  "  great,  good  priest" — the 
idol  of  the  people.  We  afterward  learned  that  this  was 
his  twentieth  pilgrimage,  and  that  he  was  supposed  to  fast, 
roll  his  head  and  wear  nothing  but  this  pair  of  loose  drawers 
all  the  way  to  and  from  Mecca. 

But  the  crowning  excitement  was  yet  to  come  and  the 
rapture  witli  which  the  crowd  had  greeted  the  Sheik  el- 
Gemel  was  as  nothing  compared  with  their  ecstasy  when 
the  mahmal,  preceded  by  another  group  of  mounted  officers 
and  borne  by  a  gigantic  camel,  was  seen  coming  through  the 
gateway.  The  women  held  up  their  children;  the  men 
swarmed  up  the  scaffoldings  of  the  swings  and  behind 
the  carriages.  They  screamed,  they  shouted,  they  waved 
handkerchiefs  and  turbans;  they  were  beside  themselves  with 
excitement.  Meanwhile  the  camel,  as  if  conscious  of  the 
dignity  of  his  position  and  the  splendor  of  his  trappings, 
came  on  slowly  and  ponderously  with  his  nose  in  the  air, 
and  passed  close  before  our  horses'  heads.  We  could  not 
possibly  have  had  better  view  of  the  mahmal;  which  is 
nothing  but  a  sort  of  cage,  or  pagoda,  of  gilded  tracery 
very  richly  decorated.  In  the  days  of  the  Memlooks,  the 
mahmal  represented  the  litter  of  the  sultan,  and  went 
empty,  like  a  royal  carriage  at  the  public  funeral;*  but  we 

*  "  It  is  related  that  the  Sultan  Ez-Zahir  Bey  bars.  King  of  Egypt, 
was  the  first  who  sent  a  mahmal  with  the  caravan  of  pilgrims  to 
Mecca,  in  the  year  of   the   flight   670  (a.  d.  1272)  or  675;  but  this 


24  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

were  told  that  it  now  carried  the  tribute-carpet  sent 
annually  by  the  carpet-makers  of  Cairo  to  the  tomb  of  the 
prophet. 

This  closed  the  procession.  As  the  camel  passed,  the 
crowd  surged  in,  and  everything  like  order  was  at  an  end. 
The  carriages  all  made  at  once  for  the  gate,  so  meeting  the 
full  tide  of  the  outpouring  crowd  and  causing  unimagin- 
able confusion.  Some  stuck  in  the  sand  half-way — our 
own  among  the  number;  and  all  got  into  an  inextricable 
block  in  the  narrow  part  just  inside  the  gate.  Hereupon 
the  drivers  abused  each  other  and  the  crowd  got  impatient, 
and  some  Europeans  got  pelted. 

Coming  back,  we  met  two  or  three  more  regiments. 
The  men,  both  horse  and  foot,  seemed  fair  average  speci- 
mens, and  creditably  disciplined.  They  rode  better  than 
they  marched,  which  was  to  be  expected.  The  uniform  is 
the  same  for  cavalry  and  infantry  throughout  the  service; 
the  only  difference  being  that  the  former  wear  short  black 
riding-boots,  and  the  latter,  zouave  gaiters  of  white  linen. 
They  are  officered  up  to  a  certain  point  by  Egyptians;  but 
the  commanding  officers  and  the  staff  (among  whom  are 
enough  colonels  and  generals  to  form  an  ordinary  regiment) 
are  chiefly  Europeans  and  Americans. 

It  had  seemed,  while  the  procession  was  passing,  that 
the  proportion  of  pilgrims  was  absurdly  small  when  com- 
pared with  the  display  of  military;  but  this,  which  is 
called  the  departure  of  the  caravan,  is  in  truth  only  the 
procession  of  the  sacred  carpet  from  Cairo  to  the  camp 
outside  the  walls;  and  the  troops  are  present  merely  as 
part  of  the  pageant.  The  true  departure  takes  place  two 
days  later.  The  pilgrims  then  muster  in  great  numbers; 
but  the  soldiery  is  reduced  to  a  small  escort.     It  was  said 

custom,  it  is  generally  said,  had  its  origin  a  few  years  before  his 
accession  to  the  throne.  Shegered-Durr,  a  beautiul  Turkish  female 
slave  who  became  the  favorite  wife  of  the  Sultan  Es-Saleh  Negm-ed- 
Deen,  and  on  the  death  of  his  son  (with  whom  terminated  the  dynasty 
of  the  house  of  the  Eiyoob)  caused  herself  to  be  acknowledged  as 
Queen  of  Egypt,  performed  the  pilgrimage  in  a  magnificent  'bodag,' 
or  covered  litter,  borne  by  a  camel;  and  for  several  successive  years 
her  empty  '  hodag '  was  sent  with  the  caravan,  merely  for  the  sake 
of  state.  '  Hence,"succeeding  princes  of  Egypt  sent  with  each  year's 
caravan  of  pilgrims  a  kind  of  'hodag'  (which  received  the  name  of 
mahmal)  as  an  emblem  of  royalty." — "The  Modern  Egyptians,"  by  E. 
W.  Lane,  chap,  xxiv,  London,  1860. 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  25 

that  seven  thousand  souls  went  out  this  year  from  Cairo 
and  its  neighborhood. 

The  procession  took  place  on  Thursday,  the  21st  clay  of 
the  Mohammedan  month  of  Showwal,  which  was  our  11th 
of  December.  The  next  day,  Friday,  being  the  Moham- 
medan Sabbath,  we  went  to  the  convent  of  the  Howling 
Dervishes,  which  lies  beyond  the  walls  in  a  quiet  nook 
between  the  river  side  and  the  part  known  as  old  Cairo. 

We  arrived  a  little  after  two,  and  passing  through  a 
court-yard  shaded  by  a  great  sycamore  were  ushered  into  a 
large,  square,  whitewashed  hall  with  a  dome  roof  and  a 
neatly  matted  floor.  The  place  in  its  arrangements  resem- 
bled none  of  the  mosques  that  we  had  yet  seen.  There 
was,  indeed,  nothing  to  arrange — no  pulpit,  no  holy  niche, 
no  lamps,  no  prayer-carpets;  nothing  but  a  row  of  cane- 
bottomed  chairs  at  one  end,  some  of  which  were  already 
occupied  by  certain  of  our  fellow-guests  at  Shepheard's 
Hotel.  A  party  of  some  forty  or  fifty  wild-looking 
dervishes  were  squatting  in  a  circle  at  the  opposite  side  of 
the  hall,  their  outer  kuftans  and  queer  pyramidal  hats 
lying  in  a  heap  close  by. 

Being:  accommodated  with  chairs  among  the  other 
spectators,  we  waited  for  whatever  might  happen.  More 
deverishes  and  more  English  dropped  in  from  time  to 
time.  The  new  dervishes  took  off  their  caps  and  sat  down 
among  the  rest,  laughing  and  talking  together  at  their 
ease.  The  English  sat  in  a  row,  shy,  uncomfortable,  and 
silent;  wondering  whether  they  ought  to  behave  as  if  they 
were  in  church,  and  mortally  ashamed  of  their  feet.  For 
we  had  all  been  obliged  to  take  off  or  cover  our  boots 
before  going  in,  and  those  who  had  forgotten  to  bring 
slippers  had  their  feet  tied  up  in  pocket  handkerchiefs. 

A  long  time  went  by  thus.  At  last,  when  the  number 
of  dervishes  had  increased  to  about  seventy,  and  every  one 
was  tired  of  waiting,  eight  musicians  came  in — two  trum- 
pets, two  lutes,  a  cocoanut  fiddle,  a  tambourine,  and  two 
drums.  Then  the  dervishes,  some  of  whom  were  old  and 
white  haired  and  some  mere  boys,  formed  themselves  into 
a  great  circle,  shoulder  to  shoulder;  the  band  struck  up  a 
plaintive,  discordant  air;  and  a  grave  middle  aged  man, 
placing  himself  in  the  center  of  the  ring  and  inclining  his 
head  at  each  repetition,  began  to  recite  the  name  of  Allah. 

Softly  at  first,  and  one  by  one,  the  dervishes  took  up  the 


26  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

chant:  "Allah!  Allah!  Allah!"  Their  heads  and  their 
voices  rose  and  fell  in  unison.  The  dome  above  gave  back 
a  hollow  echo.  There  was  something  strange  and  solemn 
in  the  ceremony. 

Presently,  however,  the  trumpets  brayed  louder  —  the 
voices  grew  hoarser — the  heads  bowed  lower — the  name  of 
Allah  rang  out  faster  and  faster,  fiercer  and  fiercer.  The 
leader,  himself  cool  and  collected,  began  sensibly  accelerat- 
ing the  time  of  the  chorus;  and  it  became  evident  that  the 
performers  were  possessed  by  a  growing  frenzy.  Soon  the 
whole  circle  was  madly  rocking  to  and  fro;  the  voices  rose 
to  a  hoarse  scream;  and  only  the  trumpets  were  audible 
above  the  din.  Now  and  then  a  dervish  would  spring  up 
convulsively  some  three  or  four  feet  above  the  heads  of  the 
others;  but  for  the  most  part  they  stood  firmly  rooted  to 
one  spot — now  bowing  their  heads  almost  to  their  feet — 
now  flinging  themselves  so  violently  back  that  we,  stand- 
ing behind,  could  see  their  faces  foreshortened  upside 
down;  and  this  with  such  incredible  rapidity  that  their 
long  hair  had  scarcely  time  either  to  rise  or  fall,  but 
remained  as  if  suspended  in  mid-air.  Still  the  frenzy 
mounted;  still  the  pace  quickened.  Some  shrieked — some 
groaned — some,  unable  to  support  themselves  any  longer, 
were  held  up  in  their  places  by  the  by-standers.  All  were 
mad  for  the  time  being.  Our  own  heads  seemed  to  be 
going  round  at  last ;  and  more  than  one  of  the  ladies 
present  looked  longingly  toward  the  door.  It  was,  in 
truth,  a  horrible  sight,  and  needed  only  darkness  and  torch- 
light to  be  quite  diabolical. 

At  length,  just  as  the  fury  was  at  its  height  and  the 
very  building  seemed  to  be  rocking  to  and  fro  above  our 
heads,  one  poor  wretch  staggered  out  of  the  circle  and  fell, 
writhing  and  shrieking,  close  against  our  feet.  At  the 
same  moment  the  leader  clapped  his  hands  ;  the  perform- 
ers, panting  and  exhausted,  dropped  into  a  sitting  posture; 
and  the  first  zikr,  as  it  is  called,  came  abruptly  to  an  end. 
Some  few,  however,  could  not  stop  immediately,  but  kept 
on  swaying  and  muttering  to  themselves;  while  the  one  in 
the  fit  having  ceased  to  shriek,  lay  out  stiff  and  straight, 
apparently  in  a  state  of  coma. 

There  was  a  murmur  of  relief  and  a  simultaneous  rising 
among  the  spectators.  It  was  announced  that  another 
zikr,  with  a  re-enforcement  of  fresh  dervishes,  would  soon 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  27 

begin;  but  the  Europeans  had  had  enough  of  it,  and  few 
remained  for  the  second  performance. 

Going  out  we  paused  beside  the  poor  fellow  on  the  floor, 
and  asked  if  nothing  could  be  done  for  him. 

"  He  is  struck  by  Mohammed/'  said  gravely  an  Egyptian 
official  who  wsis  standing  by. 

At  that  moment  the  leader  came  over,  knelt  down  beside 
him,  touched  him  lightly  on  the  head  and  breast,  and 
whispered  something  in  his  ear.  The  man  was  then  quite 
rigid  and  white  as  death.  We  waited,  however,  and  after 
a  few  more  minutes  saw  him  struggle  back  into  a  dazed, 
half-conscious  state,  when  he  was  helped  to  his  feet  and 
led  away  by  his  friends. 

The  court-yard  as  we  came  out  was  full  of  dervishes  sit- 
ting on  cane  benches  in  the  shade  and  sipping  coffee. 
The  green  leaves  rustled  overhead  with  glimpses  of  in- 
tensely blue  sky  between  ;  and  brilliant  patches  of  sun- 
shine flickered  down  upon  groups  of  wild-looking,  half- 
savage  figures  in  party-colored  garments.  It. was  one  of 
those  ready-made  subjects  that  the  sketcher  passes  by  with 
a  sigh,  but  which  live  in  his  memory  forever. 

From  hence,  being  within  a  few  minutes'  drive  of  old 
Cairo,  we  went  on  as  far  as  the  Mosque  of  Amr — an  unin- 
teresting ruin  stands  alone  among  the  rubbish-mounds  of 
the  first  Mohammedan  capital  of  Egypt.  It  is  constructed 
on  the  plan  of  a  single  quadrangle  two  hundred  and 
twenty-five  feet  square,  surrounded  by  a  covered  col- 
onnade one  range  of  pillars  in  depth  on  the  west 
(which  is  the  side  of  the  entrance);  four  on  the  north; 
three  on  the  south;  and  six  on  the  east,  which  is  the 
place  of  prayer,  and  contains  three  holy  niches  and 
the  pulpit.  The  columns,  two  hundred  and  forty-five 
in  number,  have  been  brought  from  earlier  Roman 
and  Byzantine  buildings.  They  are  of  various  mar- 
bles and  have  all  kinds  of  capitals.  Some  being 
originally  too  short,  have  been  stilted  on  dispropor- 
tionately high  bases;  and  in  one  instance  the  neces- 
sary height  has  been  obtained  by  adding  a  second  capital  on 
the  top  of  the  first.  "We  observed  one  column  of  that  rare 
black  and  white  speckled  marble  of  which  there  is  a  speci- 
men in  the  pulpit  of  St.  Mark's  in  Venice;  and  one  of  the 
holy  niches  contains  some  fragments  of  Byzantine  mosaics. 
But  the  whole  building  seems  to  have  been  put  together  in 


28  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

a  barbarous  way,  and  would  appear  to  owe  its  present  state 
of  dilapidation  more  to  bad  workmanship  than  to  time. 
Many  of  the  pillars,  especially  on  tbe  western  side,  are 
fallen  and  broken;  the  octagonal  fountain  in  the  center  is  a 
roofless  ruin;  and  the  little  minaret  at  the  southeast  cor- 
ner is  no  longer  safe. 

Apart,  however,  from  its  poverty  of  design  and  detail, 
the  Mosque  of  Arar  is  interesting  as  a  point  of  departure 
in  the  history  of  Saracenic  architecture.  It  was  built  by 
Amr  Ebn  el-As,  the  Arab  conqueror  of  Egypt,  in  the 
twenty-first  year  of  the  hegira  (a.d.  642),  just  ten  years 
after  the  death  of  Mohammed;  and  it  is  the  earliest  Sara- 
cenic edifice  in  Egypt.  We  were  glad,  therefore,  to  have 
seen  it  for  this  reason,  if  for  no  other.  But  it  is  a  barren, 
dreary  place;  and  the  glare  reflected  from  all  sides  of  the 
quadrangle  was  so  intense  that  we  were  thankful  to  get 
away  into  the  narrow  streets  beside  the  river. 

Here  we  presently  fell  in  with  a  wedding  procession  con- 
sisting of  a  crowd  of  men,  a  band,  and  some  three  or  four 
hired  carriages  full  of  veiled  women, one  of  whom  was  pointed 
out  as  the  bride.  The  bridegroom  walked  in  the  midst  of 
the  men,  who  seemed  to  be  teasing  him,  drumming  round 
him,  and  opposing  his  progress;  while  high  above  the 
laughter,  the  shouting,  the  jingle  of  tambourines  and  the 
thrumming  of  darabukkehs,  was  heard  the  shrill  squeal  of 
some  instrument  that  sounded  exactly  like  a  bagpipe. 

It  was  a  brilliant  afternoon,  and  we  ended  our  day's 
work,  I  remember,  with  a  drive  on  the  Shubra  road  and  a 
glance  at  the  gardens  of  the  khedive's  summer  palace. 
The  Shubra  road  is  the  Champs  Elysees  of  Cairo,  and  is 
thronged  every  day  from  four  to  half-past  six.  Here  little 
sheds  of  roadside  cafes  alternate  with  smart  modern  villas; 
ragged  fellaheen  on  jaded  donkeys  trot  side  by  side  with 
elegant  attaches  on  high-stepping  Arabs;  while  tourists  in 
hired  carriages,  Jew  bankers  in  unexceptionable  phaetons, 
veiled  hareems  in  London  built  broughams,  Italian  shop- 
keepers in  preposterously  fashionable  toilets,  grave 
sheiks  on  magnificent  Cairo  asses,  officers  in  frogged  and 
braided  frocks,  and  English  girls  in  tall  hats  and  close-fit- 
ting habits, followed  by  the  inevitable  little  solemn-looking 
English  groom,  pass  and  repass,  precede  and  follow  each 
other,  in  one  changing,  restless,  heterogeneous  stream, 
the  like  of  which  is  to  be  seen  in  no  other  capital  in  the 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  29 

world.  The  sons  of  the  khedive  drive  here  daily,  always 
in  separate  carriages  and  preceded  by  four  saises  and  four 
guards.  They  are  of  all  ages  and  sizes,  from  the  heredi- 
tary prince,  a  pale,  gentlemanly  looking  young  man  of 
four  or  five  and  twenty,  down  to  one  tiny,  imperious  atom 
of  about  six,  who  is  dressed  like  a  little  man,  and  is  con- 
stantly leaning  out  of  the  carriage  window  and  shrilly 
abusing  his  coachman.* 

Apart  however,  from  those  who  frequent  it,  the  Shubra 
road  is  a  really  fine  drive,  broad,  level,  raised  some  six  or 
eight  feet  above  the  cultivated  plain,  closely  planted  on  both 
sides  with  acacias  and  sycamore  fig  trees,  and  reaching 
straight  away  for  four  miles  out  of  Cairo,  counting  from 
the  railway  terminus  to  the  summer  palace.  The  carriage- 
way is  about  as  wide  as  the  road  across  Hyde  Park  which 
connects  Bayswater  with  Kensington;  and  toward  the  Shu- 
bra end,  it  runs  close  beside  the  Nile.  "Many  of  the  syca- 
mores are  of  great  size  and  quite  patriarchal  girth.  Their 
branches  meet  overhead  nearly  all  the  way,  weaving  a  de- 
licious shade  and  making  a  cool  green  tunnel  of  the  long 
perspective. 

We  did  not  stay  long  in  the  khedive's  gardens,  for  it 
was  already  getting  late  when  we  reached  the  gates;  but 
we  went  far  enough  to  see  that  they  were  tolerably  well 
kept,  not  over  formal  and  laid  out  with  a  view  to  masses 
of  foliage,  shady  paths  and  spaces  of  turf  inlaid  with 
flower-beds,  after  the  style  of  the  famous  Sarntheim  and 
Moser  gardens  at  Botzen  in  the  Tyrol.  Here  are  sont 
trees  {Acacia  Kilotica)  of  unusual  size,  powdered  all  over 
with  little  feathery  tufts  of  yellow  blossom  ;  orange  and 
lemon  trees  in  abundance;  heaps  of  little  green  limes; 
bananas  bearing  heavy  pendent  bunches  of  ripe  fruit;  Mind- 
ing thickets  of  pomegranates,  oleanders  and  salvias;  and 
great  beds  and  banks  and  trellised  walks  of  roses.  Among 
these,  however,  I  observed  none  of  the  rarer  varieties.  As 
for  the  pointsettia,  it  grows  in  Egypt  to  a  height  of  twenty 
feet,  and  bears  blossoms  of  such  size  and  color  as  we  in 
England  can  form  no  idea  of.  We  saw  large  trees  of  it 
both  here  and  at  Alexandria  that  seemed  as  if  bending  be- 
neath a  mantle  of  crimson  stars,  some  of  which  cannot 
have  measured  less  than  twenty-two  inches  in  diameter. 

*  The  hereditary  prince,  it  need  scarcely  be  said,  is  the  present 
khedive,  Tewfik  Pasha.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


30  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

A  large  Italian  fountain,  in  a  rococo  style,  is  the  great 
sight  of  the  place.  We  caught  a  glimpse  of  it  through  the 
trees,  and  surprised  the  gardener  who  was  showing  us  over 
by  declining  to  inspect  it  more  nearly.  He  could  not  un- 
derstand why  we  preferred  to  give  our  time  to  the  shrubs 
and  flower-beds. 

Driving  back  presently  toward  Cairo  with  a  big  handful 
of  roses  apiece,  we  saw  the  sun  going  down  in  an  aureole 
of  fleecy  pink  and  golden  clouds,  the  Nile  flowing  by  like  a 
stream  of  liquid  light,  and  a  little  fleet  of  sailing  boats 
going  up  to  Boulak  before  a  paff  of  north  wind  that  had 
sprung  up  as  the  sun  neared  the  horizon.  That  puff  of 
north  wind,  those  gliding  sails,  had  a  keen  interest  for  us 
now  and  touched  us  nearly;  because — I  have  delayed  this 
momentous  revelation  till  the  last  moment — because  we 
were  to  start  to-morrow! 

And  this  is  why  I  have  been  able,  in  the  midst  of  so 
much  that  was  new  and  bewildering,  to  remember  quite 
circumstantially  the  dates  and  all  the  events  connected  with 
these  last  two  days.  They  were  to  be  our  last  two  days  in 
Cairo;  and  to  morrow  morning,  Saturday,  the  13th  of  De- 
cember, we  were  to  go  on  board  a  certain  dahabeeyah  now 
lying  off  the  iron  bridge  at  Boulak,  therein  to  begin  that 
strange  aquatic  life  to  which  we  had  been  looking  forward 
with  so  many  hopes  and  fears,  and  toward  which  we 
had  been  steering  through  so  many  preliminary  difficulties. 

But  the  difficulties  were  all  over  now  and  everything 
was  settled;  though  not  in  the  way  we  had  at  first  intended. 
For,  in  place  of  a  small  boat,  we  had  secured  one  of  the 
largest  on  the  river;  and  instead  of  going  alone  we  had 
decided  to  throw  in  our  lot  with  that  of  three  other 
travelers.  One  of  these  three  was  already  known  to  the 
writer.  The  other  two,  friends  of  the  first,  were  on  their 
way  out  from  Europe  and  were  not  expected  in  Cairo  for 
another  week.  We  knew  nothing  of  them  but  their 
names. 

Meanwhile  L — —  and  the  writer,  assuming  sole  posses- 
sion of  the  dahabeeyah,  were  about  to  start  ten  days  in  ad- 
vance; it  being  their  intention  to  push  on  as  far  as  Khoda 
(the  ultimate  point  then  reached  by  the  Nile  railway),  and 
there  to  await  the  arrival  of  the  rest  of  the  party.  Xow 
Rhoda  (more  correctly  Roda)  is  just  one  hundred  and 
eighty  miles  south  of  Cairo,  and  we  calculated  upon  seeing 


CAIRO  AND  THE  MECCA  PILGRIMAGE.  31 

the  Sakkdrah  pyramids,  the  Turra  quarries,  the  tombs  of 
Beni  Hassan,  and  the  famous  grotto  of  the  Colossus  on 
the  Sledge,  before  our  fellow-travelers  should  be  clue. 

"  It  depends  on  the  wind,  you  know,"  said  our  dragoman, 
with  a  lugubrious  smile. 

We  knew  that  it  depended  on  the  wind;  but  what  then? 
In  Egypt  the  wind  is  supposed  always  to  blow  from  the 
north  at  this  time  of  the  year,  and  we  had  ten  good  days 
at  our  disposal.     The  observation  was  clearly  irrelevant. 


32  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  III. 

CAIEO   TO   BEDRESHAYN. 

A  rapid  raid  into  some  of  the  nearest  shops  for  things 
remembered  at  the  last  moment — a  breathless  gathering  up 
of  innumerable  parcels — a  few  hurried  farewells  on  the 
steps  of  the  hotel — and  away  we  rattle  as  fast  as  a  pair  of 
raw-boned  grays  can  carry  us.  For  this  morning  every 
moment  is  of  value.  We  are  already  late  ;  we  expect 
visitors  to  luncheon  on  board  at  midday;  and  we  are  to 
weigh  anchor  at  two  p.  m.  Hence  our  anxiety  to  reach 
Boulak  before  the  bridge  is  opened,  that  we  may  drive 
across  to  the  western  bank,  against  which  our  dahabeeyah 
lies  moored.  Hence,  also,  our  mortification  when  we  arrive 
just  in  time  to  see  the  bridge  swing  apart  and  the  first 
tall  mast  glide  through. 

Presently,  however,  when  those  on  the  look-out  have 
observed  our  signals  of  distress,  a  smart-looking  sandal,  or 
jolly-boat,  decked  with  gay  rugs  and  cushions,  manned  by 
five  smiling  Arabs,  and  flying  a  bright  little  new  union 
jack,  comes  swiftly  threading  its  way  in  and  out  among 
the  lumbering  barges  now  crowding  through  the  bridge. 
In  a  few  more  minutes  we  are  afloat.  For  this  is  our 
sandal  and  these  are  five  of  our  crew;  and  of  the  three 
dahabeeyahs  moored  over  yonder  in  the  shade  of  the  palms 
the  biggest  by  far,  and  the  trimmest,  is  our  dear,  memo- 
rable Philas. 

Close  behind  the  Pliilae  lies  the  Bagstones,  a  neat 
little  dahabeeyah  in  the  occupation  of  two  English  ladies 
who  chanced  to  cross  with  us  in  the  Simla  from  Brin- 
disi,  and  of  whom  we  have  seen  so  much  ever  since  that 
we  regard  them  by  this  time  as  quite  old  friends  in  a 
strange  land.  I  will  call  them  the  M.  B.'s.  The  other 
boat,  lying  off  a  few  yards  ahead,  carries  the  tri-color,  and 
is  chartered  by  a  party  of  French  gentlemen.  All  three 
are  to  sail  to-day. 


CAIRO  TO  BEDRESUA  YN.  33 

And  now  we  are  on  board  and  have  shaken  hands  with 
the  captain  and  are  as  busy  as  bees;  for  there  are  cabins  to 
put  in  order,  flowers  to  arrange,  and  a  hundred  little 
things  to  be  seen  to  before  the  guests  arrive.  It  is  wonder- 
ful, however,  what  a  few  books  and  roses,  an  open  piano, 
and  a  sketch  or  two  will  do.  In  a  few  minutes  the  com- 
fortless hired  look  has  vanished,  and  long  enough  before 
the  first  comers  are  announced  the  Phila?  wears  an  aspect 
as  cozy  and  home-like  as  if  she  had  been  occupied  for  a 
month. 

As  for  the  luncheon,  it  certainly  surprised  the  givers  of 
the  entertainment  quite  as  much  as  it  must  have  surprised 
their  guests.  Being,  no  doubt,  a  pre-arranged  display  of 
professional  pride  on  the  part  of  dragoman  and  cook,  it 
was  more  like  an  excessive  Christmas  dinner  than  a  modest 
midday  meal.  We  sat  through  it  unflinchingly,  however, 
for  about  an  hour  and  three  quarters,  when  a  startling  dis- 
charge of  firearms  sent  us  all  running  upon  deck  and 
created  a  wholesome  diversion  in  our  favor.  It  was  the 
French  boat  signaling  her  departure,  shaking  out  her  big 
sail,  and  going  off  triumphantly. 

I  fear  that  we  of  the  Bagstones  and  Philas — being  mere 
mortals  and  Englishwomen — could  not  help  feeling  just  a 
little  spiteful  when  we  found  the  tri-color  had  started  first; 
but  then  it  was  a  consolation  to  know  that  the  Frenchmen 
were  going  only  to  Assuan.  Such  is  the  esprit  (hi  Nil. 
The  people  in  dahabeeyahs  despise  Cook's  tourists;  those 
who  are  bound  for  the  second  cataract  look  down  with 
lofty  compassion  upon  those  whose  ambition  extends  only 
to  the  first;  and  travelers  who  engage  their  boat  by  the 
month  hold  their  heads  a  trifle  higher  than  those  who  con- 
tract for  the  trip.  We,  who  were  going  as  far  as  we  liked 
and  for  as  long  as  we  liked,  could  afford  to  be  mag- 
nanimous. So  we  forgave  the  Frenchmen,  went  down 
again  to  the  saloon,  and  had  coffee  and  music. 

It  wTas  nearly  three  o'clock  when  our  Cairo  visitors  wished 
us  "bon  voyage  "and  good-by.  Then  the  M.  B.'s,  who, 
with  their  nephew,  had  been  of  the  party,  went  back  to 
their  own  boat ;  and  both  captains  prepared  to  sail  at  a 
given  signal.  For  the  M.  B.'s  had  entered  into  a  solemn 
convention  to  start  with  us,  moor  with  us,  and  keep  with 
us,  if  practicable,  all  the  way  up  the  river.  It  is  pleasant 
now  to  remember  that  this  sociable  compact,  instead  of 


34  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

falling  through  as  such  compacts  are  wont  to  do,  was  quite 
literally  carried  out  as  far  as  Aboo  Simbel ;  that  is  to  say, 
during  a  period  of  seven  weeks'  hard  going  and  for  a  dis- 
tance of  upward  of  eight  hundred  miles. 

At  last  all  is  ready.  The  awning  that  has  all  day  roofed 
in  the  upper  deck  is  taken  down  ;  the  captain  stands  at 
the  head  of  the  steps;  the  steersman  is  at  the  helm;  the 
dragoman  has  loaded  his  musket.  Is  the  Bagstones  ready? 
We  wave  a  handkerchief  of  inquiry — the  signal  is  answered 
— the  mooring  ropes  are  loosened — the  sailors  pole  the  boat 
off  from  the  bank — bang  go  the  guns,  six  from  the  Philaj 
and  six  from  the  Bagstones,  and  away  we  go,  our  huge  sail 
filling  as  it  takes  the  wind  ! 

Happy  are  the  Xile  travelers  who  start  thus  with  a  fair 
breeze  on  a  brilliant  afternoon.  The  good  boat  cleaves  her 
way  swiftly  and  steadily.  "Water-side  palaces  and  gardens 
glide  by  and  are  left  behind.  The  domes  and  minarets  of 
Cairo  drop  quickly  out  of  sight.  The  mosque  of  the  cita- 
del and  the  ruined  fort  that  looks  down  upon  it  from  the 
mountain  ridge  above  diminish  in  the  distance.  The 
pyramids  stand  up  sharp  and  clear. 

We  sit  on  the  high  upper  deck,  which  is  furnished  with 
lounge-chairs,  tables  and  foreign  rugs,  like  a  drawing- 
room  in  the  open  air,  and  enjoy  the  prospect  at  our  ease. 
The  valley  is  wide  here  and  the  banks  are  flat,  showing  a 
steep  verge  of  crumbling  alluvial  mud  next  the  river. 
Long  belts  of  palm  groves,  tracts  of  young  corn  only  an 
inch  or  two  above  the  surface,  and  clusters  of  mud  huts, 
relieved  now  and  then  by  a  little  wThitewrashed  cupola  or  a 
stumpy  minaret,  succeed  each  other  on  both  sides  of  the 
river,  while  the  horizon  is  bounded  to  right  and  left  by 
long  ranges  of  yellow  limestone  mountains,  in  the  folds  of 
which  sleep  inexpressibly  tender  shadows  of  pale  violet 
and  blue. 

Thus  the  miles  glide  away,  and  by  and  by  we  approach 
Turra — a  large,  new-looking  mud  village,  and  the  first  of 
any  extent  that  we  have  yet  seen.  Some  of  the  houses  are 
whitewashed;  a  few  have  glass  windows,  and  many  seem  to 
be  unfinished.  A  space  of  wdiite,  stony,  glaring  plain  sep- 
arates the  village  from  the  quarried  mountains  beyond,  the 
flanks  of  which  show  all  gashed  and  hewn  away.  One 
great  cliff  seems  to  have  been  cut  sheer  off  for  a  distance  of 
perhaps  half  a  mile.     Where  the  cuttings  are  fresh   the 


CAIRO  TO  BEDBESHA  TN.  35 

limestone  comes  out  dazzling  white  and  the  long  slopes  of 
debris  heaped  against  the  foot  of  the  cliffs  glisten  like 
snow-drifts  in  the  sun.  Yet  the  outer  surface  of  the 
mountains  is  orange-tawny,  like  the  pyramids.  As  for  the 
piles  of  rough  hewn  blocks  that  lie  ranged  along  the  bank 
ready  for  transport,  they  look  like  salt  rather  than  stone. 
Here  lies  moored  a  whole  fleet  of  cargo  boats,  laden  and 
lading ;  and  along  the  tramway  that  extends  from  the 
river  side  to  the  quarries  we  see  long  trains  of  mule-carts 
coming  and  going. 

For  all  the  new  buildings  in  Cairo,  the  khedive's  pal- 
aces, the  public  offices,  the  smart  modern  villas,  the  glar- 
ing new  streets,  the  theaters  and  foot  pavements  and  cafes, 
all  come  from  these  mountains— -just  as  the  pyramids  did 
more  than  six  thousand  years  ago.  There  are  hieroglyphed 
tablets  and  sculptured  grottoes  to  be  seen  in  the  most 
ancient  part  of  the  quarries,  if  one  were  inclined  to  stop 
for  them  at  this  early  stage  of  the  journey;  and  Champol- 
lion  tells  of  two  magnificent  outlines  done  in  red  ink  upon 
the  living  rock  by  some  master  hand  of  Pharaonic  times, 
the  cutting  of  which  was  never  even  begun.  A  substantial 
new  barrack  and  an  esplanade  planted  with  sycamore  figs 
bring  the  straggling  village  to  an  end. 

And  now,  as  the  afternoon  wanes,  we  draw  near  to  a 
dense,  wide-spreading  forest  of  stately  date-palms  on  the 
western  bank,  knowing  that  beyond  them,  though  unseen, 
lie  the  mounds  of  Memphis  and  all  the  wonders  of  Sak- 
karah.  Then  the  sun  goes  down  behind  the  Libyan  hills; 
and  the  palms  stand  out  black  and  bronzed  against  a  golden 
sky  ;  and  the  pyramids,  left  far  behind,  look  gray  and 
ghostly  in  the  distance. 

Presently,  when  it  is  quite  dusk  and  the  stars  are  out,  we 
moor  for  the  night  at  Bedreshayn,  which  is  the  nearest 
point  for  visiting  Sakkarah.  There  is  a  railway  station 
here,  and  also  a  considerable  village,  both  lying  back  about 
half  a  mile  from  the  river;  and  the  distance  from  Cairo, 
which  is  reckoned  at  fifteen  miles  by  the  line,  is  probably 
about  eighteen  by  water. 

Such  was  our  first  day  on  the  Nile.  And  perhaps, 
before  going  farther  on  our  way,  I  ought  to  describe  the 
Phila?  and  introduce  Rei's  Hassan  and  his  crew. 

A  dahabeeyah,  at  the  first  glance,  is  more  like  a  civic  or 
an  Oxford  University  barge,  than  anything  in  the  shape  of 


36  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

a  boat  with  which  we  in  England  are  familiar.  It  is 
shallow  and  flat-bottomed,  and  is  adapted  for  either  sailing 
or  rowing.  It  carries  two  masts;  a  big  one  near  the  prow 
and  a  smaller  one  at  the  stern.  The  cabins  are  on  deck 
and  occupy  the  after-part  of  the  vessel;  and  the  roof  of  the 
cabins  forms  the  raised  deck,  or  open-air  drawing-room 
already  mentioned.  This  upper  deck  is  reached  from  the 
lower  deck  by  two  little  flights  of  steps,  and  is  the  exclu- 
sive territory  of  the  passengers.  The  lower  deck  is  the 
territory  of  the  crew.  A  dahabeeyah  is,  in  fact,  not  very 
nnlike  the  Noah's  ark  of  our  childhood,  with  this  differ- 
ence— the  habitable  part,  instead  of  occupying  the  middle 
of  the  vessel,  is  all  at  one  end,  top  heavy  and  many-win- 
dowed; while  the  fore-deck  is  not  more  than  six  feet  above 
the  level  of  the  water.  The  hold,  however,  is  under  the 
lower  deck,  and  so  counterbalances  the  weight  at  the  other 
end.  Not  to  multiply  comparisons  unnecessarily,  I  may 
say  that  a  large  dahabeeyah  reminds  one  of  old  pictures  of 
the  Bucentaur;  especially  when  the  men  are  at  their  oars. 

The  kitchen — which  is  a  mere  shed  like  a  Dutch  oven  in 
shape,  and  contains  only  a  charcoal  stove  and  a  row  of 
stew-pans — stands  between  the  big  mast  and  the  prow, 
removed  as  far  as  possible  from  the  passengers'  cabins.  In 
this  position  the  cook  is  protected  from  a  favorable  wind 
by  his  shed  ;  but  in  the  case  of  a  contrary  wind  he  is 
screened  by  an  awning.  How,  under  even  the  most  favor- 
able circumstances,  these  men  can  serve  up  the  elaborate 
dinners  which  are  the  pride  of  a  Nile  cook's  heart,  is  suf- 
ficiently wonderful;  but  how  they  achieve  the  same  results 
when  wind-storms  and  sand-storms  are  blowing  and  every 
breath  is  laden  with  the  fine  grit  of  the  desert,  is  little 
short  of  miraculous. 

Thus  far,  all  dahabeeyahs  are  alike.  The  cabin  arrange- 
ments differ,  however,  according  to  the  size  of  the  boat  ; 
and  it  must  be  remembered  that  in  describing  the  Philas  I 
describe  a  dahabeeyah  of  the  largest  build — her  total 
length  from  stem  to  stern  being  just  one  hundred  feet, 
and  the  width  of  her  upper  deck  at  the  broadest  j)art  little 
short  of  twenty. 

Our  floor  being  on  a  somewhat  lower  level  than  the 
men's  deck,  we  went  down  three  steps  to  the  entrance 
door,  on  each  side  of  which  was  an  external  cupboard,  one 
serving  as  a  store-  room  and   the  other  as  a  pantry.     This 


CAIRO  TO  BEDRESIIATN.  37 

door  led  into  a  passage  out  of  which  opened  four  sleeping- 
cabins,  two  on  each  side.  These  cabins  measured  about 
eight  feet  in  length  by  four  and  a  half  in  width,  and  con- 
tained a  bed,  a  chair,  a  fixed  washing  stand,  a  looking- 
glass  against  the  wall,  a  shelf,  a  row  of  hooks,  and  under 
each  bed  two  large  drawers  for  clothes.  At  the  end  of 
this  little  passage  another  door  opened  into  the  dining- 
saloon  —  a  spacious,  cheerful  room,  some  twent}r-three  or 
twenty-four  feet  long,  situated  in  the  widest  part  of  the 
boat,  and  lighted  by  four  windows  on  each  side  and  a  sky- 
light. The  paneled  walls  and  ceiling  were  painted  in 
white  picked  out  with  gold  ;  a  cushioned  divan  covered 
with  a  smart  woolen  reps  ran  along  each  side  ;  and  a  gay 
Brussels  carpet  adorned  the  floor.  The  diniug-table  stood 
in  the  center  of  the  room,  and  there  was  ample  space  for  a 
piano,  two  little  book-cases,  and  several  chairs.  The  win- 
dow-curtains and  portieres  were  of  the  same  reps  as  the 
divan,  the  prevailing  colors  being  scarlet  and  orange.  Add 
a  couple  of  mirrors  in  gilt  frames;  a  vase  of  flowers  on  the 
table  (for  we  were  rarely  without  flowers  of  some  sort, 
even  in  Nubia,  where  our  daily  bouquet  had  to  be  made 
with  a  few  bean  blossoms  and  castor-oil  berries);  plenty  of 
books;  the  gentlemen's  guns  and  sticks  in  one  corner;  and 
the  hats  of  all  the  party  hanging  in  the  spaces  between  the 
windows,  and  it  will  be  easy  to  realize  the  homely,  habitable 
look  of  our  general  sitting-room. 

Another  door  and  passage  opening  from  the  upper  end 
of  the  saloon  led  to  three  more  sleeping-rooms,  two  of 
which  were  single  and  one  double;  a  bath-room;  a  tiny 
back  staircase  leading  to  the  upper  deck  ;  and  the  stern- 
cabin  saloon.  This  last,  following  the  form  of  the  stern, 
was  semicircular,  lighted  by  eight  windows,  and  sur- 
rounded by  a  divan.  Under  this,  as  under  the  saloon 
divans,  there  ran  a  row  of  deep  drawers,  which,  being 
fairly  divided,  held  our  clothes,  wine,  and  books.  The 
entire  length  of  the  dahabeeyah  being  exactly  one  hun- 
dred feet,  I  take  the  cabin  part  to  have  occupied  about 
fifty-six  or  fifty-seven  feet  (that  is  to  say,  about  six  or 
seven  feet  over  the  exact  half),  and  the  lower  deck  to  have 
measured  the  remaining  forty-three  feet.  But  these 
dimensions,  being  given  from  memory,  are  approximate. 

For  the  crew  there  was  no  sleeping  accommodation  what- 
ever, unless  they  chose  to  creep  into  the  hold  among  the 


38  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

luggage  and  packing-cases.  But  this  they  never  did. 
They  just  rolled  themselves  up  at  night,  heads  and  all,  in 
rough  brown  blankets,  and  lay  about  the  lower  deck  like 
dogs. 

The  reis,  or  captain,  the  steersman,  and  twelve  sailors, 
the  dragoman,  head  cook,  assistant  cook,  two  waiters,  and 
the  boy  who  cooked  for  the  crew,  completed  our  equip- 
ment. Eeis  Hassan — short,  stern-looking,  authoritative— 
was  a  Cairo  Arab.  The  dragoman,  Elias  Talhamy,  wras  a 
Syrian  of  Beyrout.  The  two  waiters,  Michael  and  Habib, 
and  the  head  cook  (a  wizened  old  cordon  Men  named 
Hassan  Bedawee)  were  also  Syrians.  The  steersman  and 
five  of  the  sailors  were  from  Thebes;  four  belonged  to  a 
place  near  Philae;  one  came  from  a  village  opposite  Kom 
Ombo  ;  one  from  Cairo,  and  two  were  Nubians  from 
Assuan.  They  were  of  all  shades,  from  yellowish  bronze 
to  a  hue  not  far  removed  from  black;  and  though,  at  the 
first  mention  of  it,  nothing  more  incongruous  can  well  be 
imagined  than  a  sailor  in  petticoats  and  a  turban,  yet 
these  men  in  their  loose  blue  gowns,  bare  feet,  and  white 
muslin  turbans,  looked  not  only  picturesque  but  dressed 
exactly  as  they  should  be.  They  were  for  the  most  part 
fine  young  men,  slender  but  powerful,  square  in  the 
shoulders,  like  the  ancient  Egyptian  statues,  with  the  same 
slight  legs  and  long,  flat  feet.  More  docile,  active,  good- 
tempered,  friendly  fellows  never  pulled  an  oar.  Simple 
and  trustful  as  children,  frugal  as  anchorites,  they  worked 
cheerfully  from  sunrise  to  sunset,  sometimes  towing  the 
dahabeeyah  on  a  rope  all  day  long,  like  barge-horses;  some- 
times punting  for  hours,  which  is  the  hardest  work  of  all; 
yet  always  singing  at  their  task,  always  smiling  when 
spoken  to,  and  made  as  happy  as  princes  with  a  handful  of 
coarse  Egyptian  tobacco,  or  a  bundle  of  fresh  sugar-canes 
bought  for  a  few  pence  by  the  river  side.  We  soon  came 
to  know  them  all  by  name  —  Mehemet  Ali,  Salarne, 
Khalifeh,  Riskali,  Hassan,  Miisa,  and  so  on;  and  as  none 
of  us  ever  went  on  shore  without  one  or  two  of  them  to 
act  as  guards  and  attendants,  and  as  the  poor  fellows  were 
constantly  getting  bruised  hands  or  feet  and  coming  to 
the  upper  deck  to  be  doctored,  a  feeling  of  genuine  friend- 
liness was  speedily  established  between  us. 

The  ordinary  pay  of  a  Nile  sailor  is  two  pounds  a  month, 
with  an  additional  allowance  of  about  three  and  sixpence  a 


CAIRO  TO  BEDREHIIAYN.  39 

month  for  flour.  Broad  is  their  staple  food,  and  they 
make  it  themselves  at  certain  places  along  the  river  where 
there  are  large  public  ovens  for  the  purpose.  This  bread, 
which  is  cut  up  in  slices  and  dried  in  the  sun,  is  as  brown 
as  gingerbread  and  as  hard  as  biscuit.  They  eat  it  soaked 
in  hot  water,  flavored  with  oil,  pepper  and  salt,  and 
stirred  in  with  boiled  lentils  till  the  whole  becomes  of  the 
color,  flavor,  and  consistence  of  thick  pea  soup.  Except 
on  grand  occasions,  such  as  Christmas  day  or  the  anniver- 
sary of  the  flight  of  the  prophet,  when  the  passengers 
treat  them  to  a  sheep,  this  mess  of  bread  and  lentils,  with 
a  little  coffee  twice  a  day,,  and  now  and  then  a  handful  of 
dates,  constitutes  their  only  food  throughout  the  journey. 

The  Nile  season  is  the  Nile  sailors'  harvest  time.  When 
the  warm  weather  sets  in  and  the  travelers  migrate  with 
the  swallows,  these  poor  fellows  disperse  in  all  directions; 
some  to  seek  a  living  as  porters  in  Cairo;  others  to  their 
homes  in  Middle  and  Upper  Egypt,  where,  for  about  four- 
pence  a  day,  they  take  hire  as  laborers,  or  work  at  Shaduf 
irrigation  till  the  Nile  again  overspreads  the  land.  The 
Shaduf  work  is  hard,  and  a  man  has  to  keep  on  for  nine 
hours  out  of  every  twenty-four  ;  but  he  prefers  it,  for  the 
most  part,  to  employment  in  the  government  sugar  fac- 
tories, where  the  wages  average  at  about  the  same  rate,  but 
are  paid  in  bread,  which,  being  doled  out  by  unscrupulous 
inferiors,  is  too  often  of  light  weight  and  bad  quality.  The 
sailors  who  succeed  in  getting  a  berth  on  board  a  cargo- 
boat  for  the  summer  are  the  most  fortunate. 

Our  captain,  pilot,  and  crew  were  all  Mohammedans. 
The  cook  and  his  assistant  were  Syrian  Mohammedans.  The 
dragoman  and  waiters  were  Christians  of  the  Syrian  Latin 
church.  Only  one  out  of  the  fifteen  natives  could  write  or 
read;  and  that  one  was  a  sailor  named  Egendi,  who  acted 
as  a  sort  of  second  mate.  He  used  sometimes  to  write  let- 
ters for  the  others,  holding  a  scrap  of  tumbled  paper  across 
the  palm  of  his  left  hand,  and  scrawling  rude  Arabic  char- 
acters with  a  reed  pen  of  his  own  making.  This  Egendi, 
though  perhaps  the  least  interesting  of  the  crew,  was  a 
man  of  many  accomplishments — an  excellent  comic  actor, 
a  bit  of  a  shoemaker,  and  a  first-rate  barber.  More  than 
once,  when  we  happened  to  be  stationed  far  from  any  vil- 
lage, he  shaved  his  messmates  all  round  and  turned  them 
out  with  heads  as  smooth  as  billiard  balls. 


40  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

There  are,  of  course,  good  and  bad  Mohammedans  as 
there  are  good  and  bad  churchmen  of  every  denomination; 
and  we  had  both  sorts  on  board.  Some  of  the  men  were 
very  devout,  never  failing  to  perform  their  ablutions  and 
say  their  prayers  at  sunrise  and  sunset.  Others  never 
dreamed  of  doing  so.  Some  would  not  touch  wine — had 
never  tasted  it  in  their  lives,  and  would  have  suffered  any 
extremity  rather  than  break  the  law  of  their  prophet. 
Others  had  a  nice  taste  in  clarets  and  a  delicate  apprecia- 
tion of  the  respective  merits  of  rum  or  whisky  punch.  It 
is,  however,, only  fair  to  add  that  we  never  gave  them 
these  things  except  on  special  occasions,  as  on  Christmas 
day,  or  when  they  had  been  wading  in  the  river,  or  in 
some  other  way  undergoing  extra  fatigue  in  our  service. 
Nor  do  I  believe  there  was  a  man  on  board  who  would 
have  spent  a  para  of  his  scanty  earnings  on  any  drink 
stronger  than  coffee.  Coffee  and  tobacco  are,  indeed,  the 
only  luxuries  in  which  the  Egyptian  peasant  indulges; 
and  our  poor  fellows  were  never  more  grateful  than  when 
we  distributed  among  them  a  few  pounds  of  cheap  native 
tobacco.  This  abominable  mixture  sells  in  the  bazaars  at 
sixpence  the  pound,,  the  plant  from  which  it  is  gathered 
being  raised  from  inferior  seed  in  a  soil  chemically  unsuit- 
able, because  wholly  devoid  of  potash. 

Also  it  is  systematically  spoiled  in  the  growing.  Instead 
of  being  nipped  off  when  green  and  dried  in  the  shade, 
the  leaves  are  allowed  to  wither  on  the  stalk  before  they 
are  gathered.  The  result  is  a  kind  of  rank  hay  without 
strength  or  flavor,  which  is  smoked  by  only  the  very  poor- 
est class,  and  carefully  avoided  by  all  who  can  afford  to  buy 
Turkish  or  Syrian  tobacco. 

Twice  a  day,  after  their  midday  and  evening  meals,  our 
sailors  were  wont  to  sit  in  a  circle  and  solemnly  smoke  a 
certain  big  pipe  of  the  kind  known  as  a  hubble-bubble. 
This  hubble-bubble  (which  was  of  most  primitive  make 
and  consisted  of  a  cocoanut  and  two  sugar-canes)  was 
common  property;  and,  being  filled  by  the  captain,  went 
round  from  hand  to  hand,  from  mouth  to  mouth,  while  it 
lasted. 

They  smoked  cigarettes  at  other  times,  and  seldom  went 
on  shore  without  a  tobacco-pouch  and  a  tiny  book  of 
cigarette-papers.  Fancy  a  bare-legged  Arab  making  cigar- 
ettes !  No  Frenchman,  however,  could  twist  them  up 
more  deftly  or  smoke  them  w:th  a  better  grace. 


CAIRO  TO  BKDRES11ATN.  41 

A  Nile  sailor's  service  expires  with  the  season,  so  that  he 
is  generally  a  landsman  for  about  half  the  year;  but  the 
captain's  appointment  is  permanent.  He  is  expected  to 
live  in  Cairo,  and  is  responsible  for  his  dahabeeyah  during 
the  summer  months,  while  it  lies  up  at  Boulak.  Rei's 
Hassan  had  a  wife  and  a  comfortable  little  home  on  the 
outskirts  of  old  Cairo,  and  was  looked  upon  as  a  well-to- 
do  personage  among  his  fellows.  He  received  four  pounds 
a  month  all  the  year  round  from  the  owner  of  the  Philae — 
a  magnificent  broad-shouldered  Arab  of  about  six  foot 
nine,  with  a  delightful  smile,  the  manners  of  a  gentleman, 
and  the  rapacity  of  a  Shylock. 

Our  men  treated  us  to  a  concert  that  first  night,  as  we 
lay  moored  under  the  bank  near  Bedreshayn.  Being  told 
that  it  was  customary  to  provide  musical  instruments,  we 
had  given  them  leave  to  buy  a  tar  and  darabukkeh  before 
starting.  The  tar,  or  tambourine,  was  pretty  enough,  being 
made  of  rosewood  inlaid  with  mother-of-pearl;  but  a  more 
barbarous  affair  than  the  darabukkeh  was  surely  never  con- 
structed. This  primitive  drum  is  about  a  foot  and  a  half 
in  length,  funnel-shaped,  molded  of  sun-dried  clay  like 
the  kullehs,  and  covered  over  the  top  with  strained  parch- 
ment. It  is  held  under  the  left  arm  and  played  like  atom- 
torn  with  the  fingers  of  the  right  hand;  and  it  weighs 
about  four  pounds.  We  would  willingly  have  added  a 
double  pipe  or  a  cocoanut  fiddle*  to  the  strength  of  the  band 
but  none  of  our  men  could  play  them.  The  tar  and  dara- 
bukkeh, however,  answered  the  purpose  well  enough,  and 
were  perhaps  better  suited  to  their  strange  singing  than 
more  tuneful  instruments. 

We  had  just  finished  dinner  when  they  began.  First 
came  a  prolonged  wail  that  swelled,  and  sank,  and  swelled 
again,  and  at  last  died  away.  This  was  the  principal  singer 
leading  off  with  the  keynote.  The  next  followed  suit  on 
the  third  of  the  key  ;  and  finally  all  united  in  one  long, 
shrill,  descending  cry,  like  a  yawn,  or  a  howl,  or  a  combi- 
nation of  both.  This,  twice  repeated,  preluded  their  per- 
formance and  worked  them  up,  apparently,  to  the  necessary 
pitch  of  musical  enthusiasm.  The  primo  tenore  then  led 
off  in  a  quavering  roulade,  at  the  end  of  which  he  slid  into 
a  melancholy  chant,  to  which  the  rest  sang  chorus.     At  the 

*  Arabic — Kerne  ngeli. 


42  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

close  of  each  verse  they  yawned  and  howled  again;  while  the 
singer,  carried  away  by  his  emotions,  broke  out  every  now 
and  then  into  a  repetition  of  the  same  amazing  and  utterly 
indescribable  vocal  wriggle  with  which  he  had  begun.  When- 
ever he  did  this,  the  rest  held  their  breath  in  respectful 
admiration  and  uttered  an  approving  "Ah  ! ' — which  is 
here  the  customary  expression  of  applause. 

We  thought  their  music  horrible  that  first  night,  I 
remember;  though  we  ended,  as  I  believe  most  travelers 
do,  by  liking  it.  We,  however,  paid  them  the  compliment 
of  going  upon  deck  and  listening  to  their  performance. 
As  a  night-scene,  nothing  could  be  more  picturesque  than 
this  group  of  turbaned  Arabs  sitting  in  a  circle,  cross- 
legged,  with  a  lantern  in  their  midst.  The  singer  quavered; 
the  musicians  thrummed;  the  rest  softly  clapped  their 
hands  to  time  and  waited  their  turn  to  chime  in  with  the 
chorus.  Meanwhile  the  lantern  lit  up  their  swarthy  faces 
and  their  glittering  teeth.  The  great  mast  towered  up 
into  the  darkness.  The  river  gleamed  below.  The  stars 
shone  overhead.  We  felt  we  were  indeed  strangers  in  a 
strange  land. 


SAKKABA11  AND  MEMPHIS.  43 


CHAPTER  IV. 

SAKKARAH   AND   MEMPHIS. 

HAVING  arrived  at  Bedreshayn  after  dark  and  there 
moored  for  the  night,  we  were  roused  early  next  morning 
by  the  furious  squabbling  and  chattering  of  some  fifty  or 
sixty  men  and  boys,  who,  with  a  score  or  two  of  little 
rough-coated,  depressed-looking  donkeys,  were  assembled 
on  the  high  bank  above.  Seen  thus  against  the  sky,  their 
tattered  garments  fluttering  in  the  wind,  their  brown  arms 
and  legs  in  frantic  movement,  they  looked  like  a  troojo  of 
mad  monkeys  let  loose.  Every  moment  the  uproar  grew 
shriller.  Every  moment  more  men,  more  boys,  more 
donkeys  appeared  upon  the  scene.  It  was  as  if  some 
new  Cadmus  had  been  sowing  boys  and  donkeys  broadcast 
and  they  had  all  come  up  at  once  for  our  benefit. 

Then  it  appeared  that  Talhamy,  knowing  how  eight 
donkeys  would  be  wanted  for  our  united  forces,  had  sent 
up  to  the  village  for  twenty-five,  intending,  perhaps  with 
more  wisdom  than  justice,  to  select  the  best  and  dismiss 
the  others.  The  result  was  overwhelming.  Misled  by 
the  magnitude  of  the  order  and  concluding  that  Cook's 
party  had  arrived,  every  man,  boy  and  donkey  in  Bedre- 
shayn and  the  neighboring  village  of  Mitrahineh  had 
turned  out  in  hot  haste  and  rushed  down  to  the  river;  so 
that  by  the  time  breakfast  was  over  there  were  steeds 
enough  in  readiness  for  all  the  English  in  Cairo.  I  pass 
over  the  tumult  that  ensued  when  our  party  at  last 
mounted  the  eight  likeliest  beasts  and  rode  away,  leaving 
the  indignant  multitude  to  disperse  at  leisure. 

And  now  our  way  lies  over  a  dusty  flat,  across  the  rail- 
way line,  past  the  long  straggling  village,  and  through  the 
famous  plantations  known  as  the  Palms  of  Memphis.  There 
is  a  crowd  of  patient-looking  fellaheen  at  the  little  white- 
washed station,  waiting  for  the  train,  and  the  usual  rabble 
of  clamorous  water,  bread  and  fruit   sellers.     Bedreshayn, 


44  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

though  a  collection  of  mere  mud-hovels,  looks  pretty,  nest- 
ling in  the  midst  of  stately  date-palms.  Square  pigeon 
towers,  imbedded  round  the  top  with  layers  of  wide- 
mouthed  pots  and  stuck  with  rows  of  leafless  acacia  boughs 
like  ragged  banner  poles,  stand  up  at  intervals  among  the 
huts.  The  pigeons  go  in  and  out  of  the  pots,  or  sit  preen- 
ing their  feathers  on  the  branches.  The  dogs  dasli  out 
and  bark  madly  at  us  as  we  go  by.  The  little  brown  chil- 
dren pursue  us  with  cries  of  "  Bakhshish!"  The  potter, 
laying  out  rows  of  soft,  gray,  freshly  molded  clay  bowls 
and  kullehs*  to  bake  in  the  sun,  stops,  open-mouthed, 
and  stares  as  if  he  had  never  seen  a  European  till  this  mo- 
ment. His  young  wife  snatches  up  her  baby  and  pulls  her 
veil  more  closely  over  her  face,  fearing  the  evil  eye. 

The  village  being  left  behind,  we  ride  on  through  one 
long  palm-grove  after  another;  now  skirting  the  borders  of 
a  large  sheet  of  tranquil  back-water;  now  catching  a 
glimpse  of  the  far-off  pyramids  of  Ghizeh,  now  passing 
between  the  huge  irregular  mounds  of  crumbled  clay  which 
mark  the  site  of  Memphis.  Next  beyond  these  we  come 
out  upon  a  high  embanked  road  some  twenty  feet  above 
the  plain,  which  here  spreads  out  like  a  wide  lake  and 
spends  its  last  dark-brown  alluvial  wave  against  the 
yellow  rocks  which  define  the  edge  of  the  desert.  High  on 
this  barren  plateau,  seen  for  the  first  timein  one  unbroken 
panoramic  line,  there  stand  a  solemn  company  of  pyramids; 
those  of  Sakkarah  straight  before  us,  those  of  Dahshur  to 
the  left,  those  of  Abusir  to  the  right  and  the  great  pyra- 
mids of  Ghizeh  always  in  the  remotest  distance. 

It  might  be  thought  that  there  would  be  some  monotony 
in  such  a  scene  and  but  little  beauty.  On  the  contrary, 
however,  there  is  beauty  of  a  most  subtle  and  exquisite 
kind — transcendent  beauty  of  color  and  atmosphere  and 
sentiment;  and  no  monotony  either  in  the  landscape  or  in 
the  forms  of  the  pyramids.  One  of  these  which  we  are 
now  approaching  is  built  in  a  succession  of  platforms  grad- 
ually decreasing  toward  the  top.  Another  down  yonder  at 
Dahshur  curves  outward  at  the  angles,  half  dome,  half 
pyramid,  like  the  roof   of  the    Palais   de  Justice,  in  Paris. 

*  The  goolah,  or  kulleh,  is  a  porous  water- jar  of  sun-dried  Nile 
mud.  These  jars  are  made  of  all  sizes  and  in  a  variety  of  remark- 
ably graceful  forms,  and  cost  from  about  one  farthing  to  twopence 
apiece. 


SAKKARAII  AND  MEMPHIS.  45 

No  two  are  of  precisely  the  same  size,  or  built  at  precisely 
the  same  angle;  and  each  cluster  differs  somehow  in  the 
grouping. 

Then  again  the  coloring — coloring  not  to  be  matched 
with  any  pigments  yet  invented.  The  Libyan  rocks,  like 
rusty  gold — the  paler  hue  of  the  driven  sand-slopes — the 
warm  maize  of  the  nearer  pyramids  which,  seen  from  this 
distance,  takes  a  tender  tint  of  rose,  like  the  red  bloom  on  an 
apricot — the  delicate  tone  of  these  objects  against  the  sky 
— the  infinite  gradations  of  that  sky,  soft  and  pearly  toward 
the  horizon,  hlne  and  burning  toward  the  zenith — the 
opalescent  shadows,  pale  blue  and  violet  and  greenish- 
gray,  that  nestle  in  the  hollows  of  the  rock  and  the  curves 
of  the  sand-drifts — all  this  is  beautiful  in  a  way  impossi- 
ble to  describe,  and,  alas!  impossible  to  copy.  Nor  does 
the  lake-like  plain  with  its  palm-groves  and  corn-flats  form 
too  tame  a  foreground.  It  is  exactly  what  is  wanted  to 
relieve  that  glowing  distance. 

And  now,  as  we  follow  the  zigzags  of  the  road,  the  new 
pyramids  grow  gradually  larger;  the  sun  mounts  higher; 
the  heat  increases.  We  meet  a  train  of  camels,  buffaloes, 
shaggy  brown  sheep,  men,  women,  and  children  of  all  ages. 
The  camels  are  laden  with  bedding,  rugs,  mats,  and  crates 
of  poultry,  and  carry,  besides,  two  women  with  babies  and 
one  very  old  man.  The  younger  men  drive  the  tired 
beasts.  The  rest  follow  behind.  The  dust  rises  after 
them  in  a  cloud.  It  is  evidently  the  migration  of  a  family 
of  three,  if  not  four  generations.  One  cannot  help  being 
struck  by  the  patriarchal  simplicity  of  the  incident.  Just 
thus,  with  flocks  and  herds  and  all  his  clan,  went  Abraham 
into  the  land  of  Canaan  close  upon  four  thousand  years 
ago;  and  one  at  least  of  these  Sakkarah  pyramids  was  even 
then  the  oldest  building  in  the  world. 

It  is  a  touching  and  picturesque  procession — much  more 
picturesque  than  ours  and  much  more  numerous;  not- 
withstanding that  our  united  forces,  including  donkey 
boys,  porters  and  miscellaneous  hangers-on,  number  nearer 
thirty  than  twenty  persons.     For  there  are  the  M.  B.'s  and 

their  nephew,  and  L and  the  writer,  and  L 's  maid, 

and  Talhamy,  all  on  donkeys;  and  then  there  are  the 
owners  of  the  donkeys,  also  on  donkeys;  and  then  every 
donkey  has  a  boy;  and  every  boy  has  a  donkey;  and  every 
donkey-boy's  donkey  has  an  inferior    boy  in   attendance. 


46  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Our  style  of  dress,  too,  however  convenient,  is  not  exactly 
in  harmony  with  the  surrounding  scenery;  and  one  cannot 
but  feel,  as  these  draped  and  dusty  pilgrims  pass  us  on  the 
road,  that  we  cut  a  sorroy  figure  with  our  hideous  palm- 
leaf  hats,  green  veils,  and  white  umbrellas. 

But  the  must  amazing  and  incongruous  personage  in  our 
whole  procession  is  unquestionably  George.  Now  George 
is  an  English  north-country  groom  whom  the  M.  B.'s 
have  brought  out  from  the  wilds  of  Lancashire,  partly 
because  he  is  a  good  shot  and  may  be  useful  to  "Master 
Alfred "  after  birds  and  crocodiles,  and  partly  from  a 
well-founded  belief  in  his  general  abilities.  And  George, 
who  is  a  fellow  of  infinite  jest  and  infinite  resource,  takes 
to  eastern  life  as  a  duckling  to  the  water.  He  picks  up 
Arabic  as  if  it  were  his  mother  tongue.  He  skins  birds 
like  a  practiced  taxidermist.  He  can  even  wash  and  iron 
on  occasion.  He  is,  in  short,  groom,  footman,  house-maid, 
laundry-maid,  stroke-oar,  gamekeeper  and  general  factotum 
all  in  one.  And,  besides  all  this,  he  is  gifted  with  a  comic 
gravity  of  countenance  that  no  surprises  and  no  disasters 
can  upset  for  a  moment.  To  see  this  worthy  anachronism 
cantering  along  in  his  groom's  coat  and  gaiters,  livery- 
buttons,  spotted  neckcloth,  tall  hat,  and  all  the  rest  of  it; 
his  long  legs  dangling  within  an  inch  of  the  ground  on 
either  side  of  the  most  diminutive  of  donkeys;  his  double- 
barreled  fowling-piece  under  his  arm,  and  that  imper- 
turbable look  in  his  face,  one  would  have  sworn  that  he 
and  Egypt  were  friends  of  old,  and  that  he  had  been 
brought  up  on  pyramids  from  his  earliest  childhood. 

It  is  a  long  and  shelterless  ride  from  the  palms  to  the 
desert;  but  we  come  to  the  end  of  it  at  last,  mounting  just 
such  another  sand-slope  as  that  which  leads  up  from  the 
Ghizeh  road  to  the  foot  of  the  great  pyramid.  The  edge 
of  the  plateau  here  rises  abruptly  from  the  plain  in  one 
long  range  of  low  perdendicular  cliffs  pierced  with  dark 
mouths  of  rock-cut  sepulchers,  while  the  sand-slope  by 
which  we  are  climbing  pours  down  through  a  breach  in  the 
rock,  as  an  Alpine  snow-drift  flows  through  a  mountain 
gap  from  the  ice-level  above. 

And  now,  having  dismounted  through  compassion  for 
our  unfortunate  little  donkeys,  the  first  thing  we  observe 
is  the  curious  mixture  of  debris  underfoot.  At  Ghizeh 
one  treads  only  sand  and  pebbles;  but  here  at  Sakkarah 


SAKKAUAII  AND  MEMPHIS.  47 

the  whole  plateau  is  thickly  strewn  with  scraps  of  broken 
pottery,  limestone,  marble,  and  alabaster  ;  flakes  of  green 
and  blue  glaze;  bleached  bones;  shreads  of  yellow  linen, 
and  lumps  of  some  odd-looking,  dark-brown  substance,  like 
dried-up  sponge.  Presently  some  one  picks  up  a  little 
noseless  head  of  one  of  the  common  blue-ware  funereal 
statuettes,  and  immediately  we  all  fall  to  work,  grubbing 
for  treasure — a  pure  waste  of  precious  time;  for,  though  the 
sand  is  full  of  debris,  it  has  been  sifted  so  often  and  so 
carefully  by  the  Arabs  that  it  no  longer  contains  anything 
worth  looking  for.  Meanwhile,  one  finds  a  fragment  of 
iridescent  glass — another,  a  morsel  of  shattered  vase — a 
third,  an  opaque  bead  of  some  kind  of  yellow  paste.  And 
then,  with  a  sbock  which  the  present  writer,  at  all  events, 
will  not  soon  forget,  we  suddenly  discover  that  these  scat- 
tered bones  are  human — that  those  linen  shreds  are  shreds 
of  cerement  cloths — that  yonder  odd-looking  brown  lumps 
are  rent  fragments  of  what  once  was  living  flesh!  And 
now  for  the  first  time  we  realize  that  every  inch  of  this 
ground  on  which  we  are  standing,  and  all  these  hillocks 
and  hollows  and  pits  in  the  sand,  are  violated  graves. 

"  Ge  n'est  que  le  premier  pas  qu%  coute."  We  soon 
became  quite  hardened  to  such  sights  and  learned  to  rum- 
mage among  dusty  sepulchers  with  no  more  compunction 
than  would  have  befitted  a  gang  of  professional  body- 
snatchers.  These  are  experiences  upon  which  one  looks 
back  afterward  with  wonder  and  something  like  remorse; 
but  so  infectious  is  the  universal  callousness,  and  so  over- 
mastering is  the  passion  for  relic-hunting,  that  I  do  not 
doubt  we  should  again  do  the  same  things  under  the  same 
circumstances.  Most  Egyptian  travelers,  if  questioned, 
would  have  to  make  a  similar  confession.  Shocked  at 
first,  they  denounce  with  horror  the  whole  system  of  sepul- 
chral excavation,  legal  as  well  as  predatory  ;  acquiring, 
however,  a  taste  for  scarabs  and  funerary  statuettes,  they 
soon  begin  to  buy  with  eagerness  the  spoils  of  the  dead; 
finally,  they  forget  all  their  former  scruples  and  ask  no 
better  fortune  than  to  discover  and  confiscate  a  tomb  for 
themselves. 

Notwithstanding  that  I  had  first  seen  the  pyramids  of 
Ghizeh,  the  size  of  the  Sakkarah  group — especially  of  the 
pyramid  in  platforms — took  me  by  surprise.  They  are  all 
smaller  than   the  pyramids   of   Klmfu   and   Khafra  and 


48  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

would  no  doubt  look  sufficiently  insignificant  if  seen  with 
them  in  close  juxtaposition;  but  taken  by  themselves  they 
are  quite  vast  enough  for  grandeur.  As  for  the  pyramid 
in  platforms  (which  is  the  largest  at  Sakkarah,  and  next 
largest  to  the  pyramid  of  Khafra),  its  position  is  so  fine,  its 
architectural  style  so  exceptional,  its  age  so  immense  that 
one  altogether  loses  sight  of  these  questions  of  relative 
magnitude.  If  Egyptologists  are  right  in  ascribing  the 
royal  title  hieroglyphed  on  the  inner  door  of  this  pyramid 
to  Ouenephes,  the  fourth  king  of  the  first  dynasty,  then 
it  is  the  most  ancient  building  in  the  world.  It  had  been 
standing  from  five  to  seven  hundred  years  when  King 
Khufu  began  his  great  pyramid  at  Ghizeh.  It  was  over 
two  thousand  years  old  when  Abraham  was  born.  It  is 
now  about  six  thousand  eight  hundred  years  old  according 
to  Manetho  and  Mariette,  or  about  four  thousand  eight 
hundred  according  to  the  computation  of  Bunsen.  One's 
imagination  recoils  upon  the  brink  of  such  a  gulf  of  time. 

The  door  of  this  pyramid  was  carried  off  with  other 
precious  spoils  by  Lepsius  and  is  now  in  the  museum  at 
Berlin.  The  evidence  that  identifies  the  inscription  is 
tolerably  direct.  According  to  Manetho,  an  Egyptian  his- 
torian who  wrote  in  Greek  and  lived  in  the  reign  of  Ptol- 
emy Philadelphia,  King  Ouenephes  built  for  himself  a 
pyramid  at  a  place  called  Kokhome.  Now  a  tablet  dis- 
covered in  the  Serapeum  by  Mariette  gives  the  name  of 
Ka-kem  to  the  necropolis  of  Sakkarah;  and  as  the  pyramid 
in  stages  is  not  only  the  largest  on  this  platform,  but  is 
also  the  only  one  in  which  a  royal  cartouche  has  been 
found,  the  conclusion  seems  obvious. 

When  a  building  has  already  stood  for  five  or  six  thou- 
sand years  in  a  climate  where  mosses  and  lichens,  and  all 
those  natural  signs  of  age  to  which  we  are  accustomed  in 
Europe,  are  unknown,  it  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  a  few 
centuries  more  or  less  can  tell  upon  its  outward  appearance; 
yet  to  my  thinking  the  pyramid  of  Ouenephes  looks  older 
than  those  of  Ghizeh.  If  this  be  only  fancy,  it  gives  one, 
at  all  events,  the  impression  of  belonging  structurally  to  a 
ruder  architectural  period.  The  idea  of  a  monument  com- 
posed of  diminishing  platforms  is  in  its  nature  more  prim- 
itive than  that  of  a  smooth  four-sided  pyramid.  We 
remarked  that  the  masonry  on  one  side — I  think  on  the 
side  facing  eastward — was  in  a  much  more  perfect  con- 
dition than  on  either  of  the  others. 


SA KKA RA H  A  ND  MEMPHIS.  49 

Wilkinson  describes  the  interior  as  "a  hollow  dome 
supported  here  and  there  by  wooden  rafters,"  and  states 
that  the  sepulchral  chamber  was  lined  with  blue  porcelain 
tiles.*  We  would  have  liked  to  go  inside,  but  this  is  no 
longer  possible,  the  entrance  being  blocked  by  a  recent  fall 
of  masonry 

Making  up  now  for  lost  time,  we  rode  on  as  far  as  the 
house  built  in  1850  for  Mariette's  accommodation  during 
the  excavation  of  the  Serapeum — a  labor  which  extended 
over  a  period  of  more  than  four  years.  The  Serapeum,  it 
need  hardly  be  said,  is  the  famous  and  long-lost  sepulchral 
temple  of  the  sacred  bulls.  These  bulls  (honored  by  the 
Egyptians  as  successive  incarnations  of  Osiris)  inhabited 
the  temple  of  Apis  at  Memphis  while  they  lived;  and, 
being  mummied  after  death,  were  buried  in  catacombs 
prepared  for  them  in  the  desert.  In  1850,  Mariette, 
traveling  in  the  interests  of  the  French  government,  dis- 
covered both  the  temple  and  the  catacombs,  being,  accord- 
ing to  his  own  narrative,  indebted  for  the  clew  to  a  certain 
passage  in  Strabo,  which  describes  the  Temple  of  Serapis  as 
being  situate  in  a  district  where  the  sand  was  so  drifted  by 
the  wind  that  the  approach  to  it  was  in  danger  of  being 
overwhelmed;  while  the  sphinxes  on  either  side  of  the 
great  avenue  were  already  more  or  less  buried,  some  having 
only  their  heads  above  the  surface.  "If  Strabo  had  not 
written  this  passage,"  says  Mariette,  "it  is  probable  that 
the  Serapeum  would  still  be  lost  under  the  sands  of  the 
necropolis  of  Sakkarah.  One  day,  however  (in  1850), 
being  attracted  to  Sakkarah  by  my  Egyptological  studies. 
I  perceived  the  head  of  a  sphinx  showing  above  the  surface. 
It  evidently  occupied  its  original  position.  Close  by  lay  a 
libation-table  on  which  was  engraved  a  hieroglyphic 
inscription  to  Apis-Osiris.  Then  that  passage  in  Strabo 
came  to  my  memory,  and  I  knew  that  beneath  my  feet  lay 
the  avenue  leading  to  the  long  and  vainly  sought  Serapeum. 
Without  saying  a  word  to  any  one  I  got  some  workmen 
together  and  we  began  excavating.  The  beginning  was 
difficult;    but   soon    the   lions,    the   peacocks,   the    Greek 

*  Some  of  these  tiles  are  to  be  seen  in  the  Egyptian  department  of 
the  British  Museum.  They  are  not  blue,  but  of  a  bluish  green.  For 
a  view  of  the  sepulchral  chamber,  see  Maspero's  "Archeologie  Egvp- 
tienne,"  fig.  230,  p.  256.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


50  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

statues  of  theDromos,  the  inscribed  tablets  of  the  Temple 
of  Nectanebo*  rose  up  from  the  sands.  Thus  was  the 
Serapeum  discovered." 

The  house — a  slight,  one-storied  building  on  a  space  of 
rocky  platform — looks  down  upon  a  sandy  hollow  which 
now  presents  much  the  same  appearance  that  it  must  have 
presented  when  Marietta  was  first  reminded  of  the  fortu- 
nate passage  in  Strabo.  One  or  two  heads  of  sphinxes 
peep  up  here  and  there  in  a  ghastly  way  above  the  sand 
and  mark  the  line  of  the  great  avenue.  The  upper  half 
of  a  boy  riding  on  a  peacock,  apparently  of  rude  execu- 
tion, is  "also  visible.  The  rest  is  already  as  completely 
overwhelmed  as  if  it  had  never  been  uncovered.  One  can 
scarcely  believe  that  only  twenty  years  ago  the  whole  place 
was  entirely  cleared  at  so  vast  an  expenditure  of  time  and 
labor.  The  work,  as  I  have  already  mentioned,  took  four 
years  to  complete.  This  avenue  alone  was  six  hundred 
feet  in  length  and  bordered  by  an  army  of  sphinxes,  one 
hundred  and  forty-one  of  which  were  found  in  situ.  As 
the  excavation  neared  the  end  of  the  avenue,  the  causeway, 
which  followed  a  gradual  descent  between  massive  walls, 
lay  seventy  feet  below  the  surface.  The  labor  was  immense 
and  the  difficulties  were  innumerable.  The  ground  had  to 
be  contested  inch  by  inch.  "  In  certain  places,"  says 
Mariette,  "  the  sand  was  fluid,  so  to  speak,  and  baffled  us 
like  water  continually  driven  back  and  seeking  to  regain 
its  level. "f 

If,  however,  the  toil  was  great,  so  also  was  the  rewrard. 
A  main  avenue  terminated  by  a  semicircular  platform, 
around  which  stood  statues  of  famous  Greek  philosophers 
and  poets;  a  second  avenue  at  right  angles  to  the  first;  the 
remains  of  the  great  temple  of  the  Serapeum  ;  three 
smaller  temples;  and  three  distinct  groups  of  Apis  cata- 
combs were  brought  to  light.  A  descending  passage  open- 
ing from  a  chamber  in  the  great  temple  led   to   the  cata- 

*  Nectanebo  I  and  Nectanebo  II  were  the  last  native  Pharaohs  of 
ancient  Egypt,  and  nourished  between  b.  c.  378  and  b.  c.  340.  An 
earlier  temple  must  have  preceded  the  Serapeum  built  by  Nec- 
tanebo I. 

f  For  an  excellent  and  exact  account  of  the  Serapeum  and  the 
monuments  there  discovered,  see  M.  Arthur  Rhone's  "  L'Egypte  en 
Petites  Journees."      [Note  to  second  edition.] 


SAKKARAH  AND  MEMPHIS.  51 

combs — vast  labyrinths  of  vaults  and  passages  hewn  out  of 
the  solid  rock  on  which  the  temples  were  built.  These 
three  groups  of  excavations  represent  three  epochs  of 
Egyptian  history.  The  first  and  most  ancient  series  con- 
sists of  isolated  vaults  dating  from  the  eighteenth  to  the 
twenty-second  dynasty  ;  that  is  to  say,  from  about  b.  c. 
1703  to  b.  c.  980.  The  second  group,  which  dates  from  the 
reign  of  Sheshonk  I  (twenty-second  dynasty,  b.  c.  980) 
to  that  of  Tirhakah,  the  last  king  of  the  twenty-fifth 
dynasty,  is  more  systematically  planned,  and  consists  of 
one  long  tunnel  bordered  on  each  side  by  a  row  of  funereal 
chambers.  The  third  belongs  to  the  Greek  period,  be- 
ginning with  Psammetichus  I  (twenty-sixth  dynasty, 
b.  c.  6G5)  and  ending  with  the  latest  Ptolemies.  Of  these, 
the  first  are  again  choked  with  sand;  the  second  are  con- 
sidered unsafe;  and  the  third  only  is  accessible  to  travelers. 

After  a  short  but  toilsome  walk  and  some  delay  outside 
a  prison-like  door  at  the  bottom  of  a  steep  descent,  we  were 
admitted  by  the  guardian — a  gaunt  old  Arab  with  a  lantern 
in  his  hand.  It  was  not  an  inviting  looking  place  within. 
The  outer  daylight  fell  upon  a  rough  step  or  two,  beyond 
which  all  was  dark.  We  went  in.  A  hot,  heavy  atmos- 
phere met  us  on  the  threshold;  the  door  fell  to  with  a 
dull  clang,  the  echoes  of  which  went  wandering  away  as  if 
into  the  central  recesses  of  the  earth;  the  Arab  chattered 
and  gesticulated.  He  was  telling  us  that  we  were  now  in 
the  great  vestibule  and  that  it  measured  ever  so  many 
feet  in  this  and  that  direction;  but  we  could  see  nothing — 
neither  the  vaulted  roof  overhead,  nor  the  walls  on  any 
side,  nor  even  the  ground  beneath  our  feet.  It  was  like 
the  darkness  of  infinite  space. 

A  lighted  candle  was  then  given  to  each  person  and  the 
Arab  led  the  way.  He  went  dreadfully  fast  and  it  seemed 
at  every  step  as  if  one  were  on  the  brink  of  some  frightful 
chasm.  Gradually,  however,  our  eyes  became  accustomed 
to  the  gloom,  and  we  found  that  we  had  passed  out  of  the 
vestibule  into  the  first  great  corridor.  All  was  vague, 
mysterious,  shadowy.  A  dim  perspective  loomed  out  of 
the  darkness.  The  lights  twinkled  and  flitted  like  wander- 
ing sparks  of  stars.  The  Arab  held  his  lantern  to  the  walls 
here  and  there,  and  showed  us  some  votive  tablets  in- 
scribed with  records  of  pious  visits  paid  by  devout 
Egyptians  to  the  sacred  tombs.     Of  these  they  found  five 


52  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

hundred  when  the  catacombs  were  first  opened  ;  but 
Mariette  sent  nearly  all  to  the  Louvre. 

A  few  steps  farther  and  we  came  to  the  tombs — a  suc- 
cession of  great  vaulted  chambers  hewn  out  at  irregular 
distances  along  both  sides  of  the  central  corridor  and  sunk 
some  six  or  eight  feet  below  the  surface.  In  the  middle  of 
each  chamber  stood  an  enormous  sarcophagus  of  polished 
granite.  The  Arab,  flitting  on  ahead  like  a  black  ghost, 
paused  a  moment  before  each  cavernous  opening,  flashed 
the  light  of  his  lantern  on  the  sarcophagus  and  sped  away 
again,  leaving  us  to  follow  as  we  could. 

So  we  went  on,  going  every  moment  deeper  into  the  solid 
rock  and  farther  from  theopenairand  thesunshine.  Think- 
ing it  would  be  cold  underground,  we  had  brought  warm 
wraps  in  plenty;  but  the  heat,  on  the  contrary,  was  intense, 
and  the  atmosphere  stifling.  We  had  not  calculated  on 
the  dryness  of  the  place,  nor  had  we  remembered  that  or- 
dinary mines  and  tunnels  are  cold  because  they  are  damp. 
But  here  for  incalculable  ages — for  thousands  of  years 
probably  before  the  Nile  had  even  cut  its  path  through  the 
rocks  of  Silsilis — a  cloudless  African  sun  had  been  pouring 
its  daily  floods  of  light  and  heat  upon  the  dewless  desert 
overhead.  The  place  might  well  be  unendurable.  It  was 
like  a  great  oven  stored  with  the  slowly  accumulated  heat 
of  cycles  so  remote  and  so  many,  that,  the  earliest  periods 
of  Egyptian  history  seem,  when  compared  with  them,  to 
belong  to  yesterday. 

Having  gone  on  thus  for  a  distance  of  nearly  two  hun- 
dred yards,  we  came  to  a  chamber  containing  the  first  hiero- 
glyphed  sarcophagus  we  had  yet  seen;  all  the  rest  being 
polished,  but  plain.  Here  the  Arab  paused  ;  and,  finding 
access  provided  by  means  of  a  flight  of  wooden  steps,  we 
went  down  into  the  chamber,  Avalked  round  the  sarcoph- 
agus, peeped  inside  by  the  help  of  a  ladder,  and  examined 
the  hieroglyphs  with  which  it  is  covered.  Enormous  as 
they  look  from  above,  one  can  form  no  idea  of  the  bulk  of 
these  huge  monolithic  masses  except  from  the  level  on 
which  they  stand.  This  sarcophagus,  which  dates  from 
the  reign  of  Amasis,  of  the  twenty-sixth  dynasty,  measured 
fourteen  feet  in  length  by  eleven'  in  height,  and  consisted 
of  a  single  block  of  highly  wrought  black  granite.  Four 
persons  might  sit  in  it  round  a  small  card-table,  and  play  a 
rubber  comfortably. 


SAKKARAII  AND  MEMPHIS.  53 

From  this  point  the  corridor  branches  off  for  another 
two  hundred  yards  or  so,  leading  always  to  more  chambers 
and  more  sarcophagi,  of  which  last  there  are  altogether 
twenty-four.  Three  only  are  inscribed;  none  measure  less 
than  from  thirteen  to  fourteen  feet  in  length;  and  all  are 
empty.  The  lids  in  every  instance  have  been  pushed  back 
a  little  way,  and  some  are  fractured;  but  the  spoilers  have 
been  unable  wholly  to  remove  them.  According  to 
Mariette,  the  place  was  pillaged  by  the  early  Christians, 
who,  besides  carrying  off  whatever  they  could  find  in  the 
way  of  gold  and  jewels,  seem  to  have  destroyed  the  mum- 
mies of  the  bulls  and  razed  the  great  temple  nearly  to  the 
ground.  Fortunately,  however,  they  either  overlooked,  or 
left  as  worthless,  some  hundreds  of  exquisite  bronzes  and 
the  five  hundred  votive  tablets  before  mentioned,  which, 
as  they  record  not  only  the  name  and  rank  of  the  visitor, 
but  also,  with  few  exceptions,  the  name  and  year  of  the 
reigning  Pharaoh,  afford  invaluable  historical  data,  and 
are  likely  to  do  more  than  any  previously  discovered  docu- 
ments toward  clearing  up  disputed  points  of  Egyptian 
chronology. 

It  is  a  curious  fact  that  one  out  of  the  three  inscribed 
sarcophagi  should  bear  the  oval  of  Cambyses — that  Caui- 
byses  of  whom  it  is  related  that,  having  desired  the  priests 
of  Memphis  to  bring  before  him  the  god  Apis,  he  drew 
his  dagger  in  a  transport  of  rage  and  contempt  and  stabbed 
the  animal  in  the  thigh.  According  to  Plutarch,  he  slew 
the  beast  and  cast  out  its  body  to  the  dogs;  according  to 
Herodotus,  "  Apis  lay  some  time  pining  in  the  temple, 
but  at  last  died  of  his  wound,  and  the  priests  buried  him 
secretly;"  but  according  to  one  of  these  precious  Sera- 
peum  tablets,  the  wounded  bull  did  not  die  till  the  fourth 
year  of  the  reign  of  Darius.  So  wonderfully  does  modern 
discovery  correct  and  illustrate  tradition. 

And  now  comes  the  sequel  to  this  ancient  story  in  the 
shape  of  an  anecdote  related  by  M.  About,  who  tells  how 
Mariette,  being  recalled  suddenly  to  Paris  some  months 
after  the  opening  of  the  Serapeum,  found  himself  without 
the  means  of  carrying  away  all  his  newly  excavated  an- 
tiquities, and  so  buried  fourteen  cases  in  the  desert,  there 
to  await  his  return.  One  of  these  cases  contained  an 
Apis  mummy  which  had  escaped  discovery  by  the  early 
Christians  ;  and   this   mummy   was  that  of  the  identical 


54  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Apis  stabbed  by  Cambyses.  That  the  creature  had  actually 
survived  his  wound  was  proved  by  the  condition  of  one  of 
the  thigh-bones,  which  showed  unmistakable  signs  of  both 
injury  and  healing. 

Nor  does  the  story  end  here.  Mariette  being  gone,  and 
having  taken  with  him  all  that  was  most  portable  among 
his  treasures,  there  came  to  Memphis  one  whom  M.  About 
indicates  as  "  a  young  and  august  stranger"  traveling  in 
Egypt  for  his  pleasure.  The  Arabs,  tempted  perhaps  by 
a  princely  bakhshish,  revealed  the  secret  of  the  hidden 
cases;  whereupon  the  archduke  swept  off  the  whole  four- 
teen, dispatched  them  to  Alexandria,  and  immediately 
shipped  them  for  Trieste.*  "Quant  an  coupable,"  says 
M.  About,  who  professes  to  have  had  the  story  direct  from 
Mariette,  "ilafini  si  tragiquement  dans  un  autre  hemi- 
sphere que,  tout  bien  pese,  je  renonce  a  publier  son  nora." 
But  through  so  transparent  a  disguise  it  is  not  difficult  to 
identify  the  unfortunate  hero  of  this  curious  anecdote. 

The  sarcophagus  in  which  the  Apis  was  found  remains 
in  the  vaults  of  the  Serapeum;  but  we  did  not  see  it.  Hav- 
ing come  more  than  two  hundred  yards  already,  and  being 
by  this  time  well-nigh  suffocated,  we  did  not  care  to  put 
two  hundred  yards  more  between  ourselves  and  the  light 
of  day.  So  we  turned  back  at  the  half  distance — having, 
however,  first  burned  a  pan  of  magnesian  powder,  which 
flared  up  wildly  for  a  few  seconds;  lit  the  huge  gallery  and 
all  its  cavernous  recesses  and  the  wondering  faces  of  the 
Arabs,  and  then  went  out  with  a  plunge,  leaving  the  dark- 
ness denser  than  before. 

From  hence,  across  a  farther  space  of  sand  we  went  in 
all  the  blaze  of  noon  to  the  tomb  of  one  Ti,  a  priest  and 
commoner  of  the  fifth  dynasty,  wdio  married  with  a  lady 
named  Neferhotep-s,  the  granddaughter  of  a  Pharaoh,  and 
here  built  himself  a  magnificent  tomb  in  the  desert. 

On  the  facade  of  this  tomb,  which  must  originally  have 
looked  like  a  little  temple,  only  two  large  pillars  remain. 
Next  comes  a  square  court-yard,  surrounded  by  a  roofless 
colonnade,  from  one  corner  of  which  a  covered  passage 
leads  to  two  chambers.     In   the   center   of   the  court-yard 

*  These  objects,  known  as  "The  Miramar  Collection,"  and  cata- 
logued by  Professor  Keinisch,  are  now  removed  to  Vienna.  [Note 
to  second  edition.] 


SAKE  All  All  AND  MEMPHIS.  55 

yawns  an  open  pit  some  twenty-five  feet  in  depth,  with  a 
shattered  sarcophagus  just  visible  in  the  gloom  of  the 
vault  below.  All  here  is  limestone — walls,  pillars,  pave- 
ments, even  the  excavated  debris  with  which  the  pit  hud 
been  filled  in  when  the  vault  was  closed  forever.  The 
quality  of  this  limestone  is  close  and  fine  like  marble,  and 
so  white  that,  although  the  walls  and  columns  of  the 
court-yard  are  covered  with  sculptures  of  most  exquisite  ex- 
ecution and  of  the  greatest  interest,  the  reflected  light  is  so 
intolerable  that  we  find  it  impossible  to  examine  them  with 
the  interest  they  deserve.  In  the  passage,  however,  where 
there  is  shade,  and  in  the  large  chamber,  where  it  is  so  dark 
that  we  can  see  only  by  the  help  of  lighted  candles,  we  find  a 
succession  of  bas-reliefs  so  numerous  and  so  closely  packed 
that  it  would  take  half  a  day  to  see  them  properly. 
Banged  in  horizontal  parallel  lines  about  a  foot  and  a  half 
in  depth,  these  extraordinary  pictures,  row  above  row, 
cover  every  inch  of  wall-space  from  floor  to  ceiling.  The 
relief  is  singularly  low.  I  should  doubt  if  it  anywhere  ex- 
ceeds a  quarter  of  an  inch.  The  surface,  which  is  covered 
with  a  thin  film  of  very  fine  cement,  has  a  quality  and 
]:>olish  like  ivory.  The  figures  measure  an  average  height 
of  about  twelve  inches,  and  all  are  colored. 

Here,  as  in  an  open  book,  we  have  the  biography  of  Ti. 
His  whole  life,  his  pleasures,  his  business,  his  domestic 
relations,  are  brought  before  us  with  just  that  faithful  sim- 
plicity which  makes  the  charm  of  Montaigne  and  Pepys. 
A  child  might  read  the  pictured  chronicles  which  illumi- 
nate these  walls  and  take  as  keen  a  pleasure  in  them  as  the 
wisest  of  archaeologists. 

Ti  was  a  wealthy  man  and  his  wealth  was  of  the  agri- 
cultural sort.  He  owned  flocks  and  herds  and  vassals  in 
plenty.  He  kept  many  kinds  of  birds  and  beasts — geese, 
ducks,  pigeons,  cranes,  oxen,  goats,  asses,  antelopes  and 
gazelles.  He  was  fond  of  fishing  and  fowling,  and  used 
sometimes  to  go  after  crocodiles  and  hippopotamuses, 
which  came  down  as  low  as  Memphis  in  his  time.  He  was 
a  kind  husband,  too,  and  a  good  father,  and  loved  to 
share  his  pleasures  with  his  family.  Here  we  see  him  sit- 
ting in  state  with  his  wife  and  children,  while  professional 
singers  and  dancers  perform  before  them.  Yonder  they 
walk  out  together  and  look  on  while  the  farm-servants  are 
at  work,  and  watch  the  coming  in  of  the  boats   that   bring 


5G  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

home  the  produce  of  Ti's  more  distant  lands.  Here  the 
geese  are  being  driven  home;  the  cows  are  crossing  a  ford; 
the  oxen  are  plowing;  the  sower  is  scattering  his  seed;  the 
reaper  plies  his  sickle;  the  oxen  tread  the  grain;  the  corn 
is  stored  in  the  granary.  There  are  evidently  no  independ- 
ent tradesfolk  in  these  early  days  of  the  world.  Ti  has  his 
own  artificers  on  his  own  estate,  and  all  his  goods  and  chat- 
tels are  home-made.  Here  the  carpenters  are  fashioning 
new  furniture  for  the  house;  the  shipwrights  are  busy  on 
new  boats;  the  potters  mold  pots;  the  metal-workers  smelt 
ingots  of  red  gold.  It  is  plain  to  see  that  Ti  lived  like  a 
king  within  his  own  boundaries.  He  makes  an  imposing 
figure,  too,  in  all  these  scenes,  and,  being  represented 
about  eight  times  as  large  as  his  servants,  sits  and  stands  a 
giant  among  pigmies.  His  wife  (we  must  not  forget  that 
she  was  of  the  blood  royal)  is  as  big  as  himself;  and  the 
children  are  depicted  about  half  the  size  of  their  parents. 
Curiously  enough,  Egyptian  art  never  outgrew  this  early 
naivete.  The  great  man  remained  a  big  man  to  the  last 
days  of  the  Ptolemies,  and  the  fellah  was  always  a 
dwarf.* 

Apart  from  these  and  one  or  two  other  mannerisms, 
nothing  can  be  more  natural  than  the  drawing,  or  more 
spirited  than  the  action,  of  all  these  men  and  animals. 
The  most  difficult  and  transitory  movements  are  expressed 
with  masterly  certitude.  The  donkey  kicks  up  his  heels 
and  brays — the  crocodile  plunges — the  wild  duck  rises  on 
the  wing;  and  the  fleeting  action  is  caught  in  each  in- 
stance with  a  truthfulness  that  no  landseer  could  distance. 
The  forms,  which  have  none  of  the  conventional  stiffness 
of  later  Egyptian  work,  are  modeled  roundly  and  boldly 
yet  finished  with  exquisite   precision  and  delicacy.     The 

*  A  more  exhaustive  study  of  the  funerary  texts  has  of  late  revolu- 
tionized our  interpretation  of  these  and  similar  sepulchral  tableaux. 
The  scenes  they  represent  are  not,  as  was  supposed  when  this  book 
was  fust  written,  mere  episodes  in  the  daily  life  of  the  deceased;  but 
are  links  in  the  elaborate  story  of  his  burial  and  his  ghostly  existence 
after  death.  The  corn  is  sown,  reaped,  and  gathered  in  order  that  it 
may  be  ground  and  made  into  funerary  cakes ;  the  oxen,  goats, 
gazelles,  geese  and  other  live  stock  are  destined  for  sacrificial  offer- 
ings; the  pots,  and  furniture,  and  household  goods  are  for  burying 
with  the  mummy  in  his  tomb;  and  it  is  his  "  Ka,"  or  ghostly  double, 
that  takes  part  in  these  various  scenes,  and  not  the  living  man.  [Note 
to  second  edition.] 


SAKKA  HA  II  AND  MEMPHIS. 


57 


coloring,  however,  is  purely  decorative;  and,  being  laid  on 
in  single  tints,  with  no  attempt  at  gradation  or  shading, 
conceals  rather  than  enhances  the  beauty  of  the  sculp- 
tures. These,  indeed,  are  best  seen  where  the  color  is  en- 
tirely rubbed  off.  The  tints  are  yet  quite  brilliant  in  parts 
of  the  larger  chamber;  but  in  the  passage  and  court-yard, 
which  have  been  excavated  only  a  few  years  and  are  with 
difficulty  kept  clear  from  day  to  day,  there  is  not  a  vestige 
of  color  left.  This  is  the  work  of  the  sand — that  patient 
laborer  whose  office  it  is  not  only  to  preserve  but  to  destroy. 
The  sand  secretes  and  preserves  the  work  of  the  sculptor, 
but  it  effaces  the  work  of  the  painter.  In  sheltered  places 
where  it  accumulates  passively  like  a  snow-drift,  it  brings 
away  only  the  surface  detail,  leaving  the  under  colors 
rubbed  and  dim.  But  nothing,  as  I 
had  occasion  constantly  to  remark  in 
the  course  of  the  journey,  removes 
color  so  effectually  as  sand  which  is 
exposed  to  the  shifting  action  of  the 
wind. 

This  tomb,  as  we  have  seen,  con- 
sists of  a  portico,  a  court-yard,  two 
chambers,  and  a  sepulchral  vault  ; 
but  it  also  contains  a  secret  passage 
of  the  kind  known  as  a  "serdab." 
These  "  serdabs,"  which  are  con- 
structed in  the  thickness  of  the  walls  and  have  no 
entrances,  seem  to  be  peculiar  to  tombs  of  the  ancient  em- 
pire (i.e.  the  period  of  the  pyramid  kings);  and  they  contain 
statues  of  the  deceased  of  all  sizes,  in  wood,  lime-stone, 
and  granite.  Twenty  statues  of  Ti  were  here  found  im- 
mured in  the  "serdab"  of  his  tomb,  all  broken  save  one — a 
spirited  figure  in  lime-stone,  standing  about  seven  feet  high, 
and  now  in  the  museum  at  Boulak.  This  statue  represents  a 
fine  young  man  in  a  white  tunic,  and  is  evidently  a  portrait. 
The  features  are  regular;  the  expression  is  good-natured; 
the  whole  tournure  of  the  head  is  more  Greek  than  Egyp- 
tian. The  flesh  is  painted  of  a  yellowish  brick  tint,  and 
the  figure  stands  in  the  usual  hieratic  attitude,  with  the 
left  leg  advanced,  the  hands  clenched,  and  the  arms 
straightened  close  to  the  sides.  One  seems  to  know  Ti  so 
well  after  seeing  the  wonderful  pictures  in  his  tomb,  that 


HEAD    OF    TI. 


58  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

this  charming  statue  interests  one  like  the  portrait  of  a 
familiar  friend.* 

How  pleasant  it  was,  after  being  suffocated  in  the  Sera- 
peum  and  broiled  in  the  tomb  of  Ti,  to  return  to  Mari- 
ettas deserted  bouse  and  eat  our  luncheon  on  the  cool 
stone  terrace  that  looks  northward  over  the  desert!  Some 
wooden  tables  and  benches  are  hospitably  left  here  for  the 
accommodation  of  travelers,  and  fresh  water  in  ice-cold 
kullehs  is  provided  by  the  old  Arab  guardian.  The  yards 
and  offices  at  the  back  are  full  of  broken  statues  and  frag- 
ments of  inscriptions  in  red  and  black  granite.  Two 
sphinxes  from  the  famous  avenue  adorn  the  terrace  and 
look  down  upon  their  half-buried  companions  in  the  sand- 
hollow  below.  The  yellow  desert,  barren  and  undulating, 
with  a  line  of  purple  peaks  on  the  horizon,  reaches  away 
into  the  far  distance.  To  the  right,  under  a  jutting  ridge 
of  rocky  plateau  not  two  hundred  yards  from  the  house, 
yawns  an  opened-mouthed  black-looking  cavern  shored  up 
with  heavy  beams  and  approached  by  a  slope  of  debris. 
This  is  the  forced  entrance  to  the  earlier  vaults  of  the 
Serapeum,  in  one  of  which  was  found  a  mummy  described 
by  Mariette  as  that  of  an  Apis,  but  pronounced  by  Brugsch 
to  be  the  body  of  Prince  Kha-em-uas,  governor  of  Mem- 
phis and  the  favorite  son  of  Rameses  the  Great. 

This  remarkable  mummy,  which  looked  as  much  like  a 
bull  as  a  man,  was  found  covered  with  jewels  and  gold 
chains  and  precious  amulets  engraved  with  the  name  of 
Kha-em-uas,  and  had  on  its  face  a  golden  mask;  all  which 
treasures  are  now  to  be  seen  in  the  Louvre.  If  it  was  the 
mummy  of  an  Apis,  then  the  jewels  with  which  it  was 
adorned  were  probably  the  offering  of  the  prince  at  that 
time  ruling  in  Memphis.  If,  on  the  contrary,  it  was  the 
mummy  of  a  man,  then,  in  order  to  be  buried  in  a  place 
of  peculiar  sanctity,  he  probably  usurped  one  of  the  vaults 
prepared  for  the  god.     The  question  is  a  curious  one  and 

*  These  statues  were  not  mere  portrait-statues;  but  were  designed 
as  bodily  habitations  for  the  incorporeal  ghost,  or  "  Ka,"  which  it 
was  supposed  needed  a  body,  food  and  drink,  and  must  perish  ever- 
lastingly if  not  duly  supplied  with  these  necessaries.  Hence  the 
whole  system  of  burying  food-offerings,  furniture,  stuffs,  etc.,  in  an- 
cient Egyptian  sepulchers.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


SAKKARAII  AND  MEMPHIS.  59 

remains  unsolved  to  this  day;  but  it  could  no  doubt  be  set- 
tled at  a  glance  by  Professor  Owen.* 

Far  more  startling,  however,  than  the  discovery  of  either 
Apis  or  jewels  was  the  sight  beheld  by  Mariette  on  first 
entering  that  long-closed  sepulchral  chamber.  The  mine 
being  sprung  and  the  opening  cleared  he  went  in  alone  ; 
and  there,  on  the  thin  layer  of  sand  that  covered  the  floor 
he  found  the  footprints  of  the  workmen  who,  three  thou- 
sand seven  hundred  years  f  before,  had  laid  that  shapeless 
mummy  in  its  tomb  and  closed  the  doors  upon  it,  as  they 
believed,  forever. 

And  now — for  the  afternoon  is  already  waning  fast — the 
donkeys  are  brought  round  and  we  are  told  that  it  is  time 
to  move  on.  We  have  the  sight  of  Memphis  and  the  fa- 
mous prostrate  colossus  yet  to  see  and  the  long  road  lies  all 
before  us.  So  back  we  ride  across  the  desolate  sands;  and 
with  a  last,  long,  wistful  glance  at  the  pyramid  in  plat- 
forms, go  down  from  the  territory  of  the  dead  into  the 
land  of  the  living. 

There  is  a  wonderful  fascination  about  this  pyramid. 
One  is  never  weary  of  looking  at  it — of  repeating  to  one's 
self  that  it  is  indeed  the  oldest  building  on  the  face  of  the 
whole  earth.  The  king  who  erected  it  came  to  the  throne, 
according  to  Manetho,  about  eighty  years  after  the  death 
of  Mena,  the  founder  of  the  Egyptian  monarchy.  All  we 
have  of  him  is  his  pyramid;  all  we  know  of  him  is  his 
name.  And  these  belong,  as  it  were,  to  the  infancy  of  the 
human  race.  In  dealing  with  Egyptian  dates  one  is  apt  to 
think  lightly  of  periods  that  count  only  by  centuries  ;  but 
it  is  a  habit  of  mind  which  leads  to  error  and  it  should  be 
combated.  The  present  writer  found  it  useful  to  be  con- 
stantly comparing  relative  chronological  eras  ;  as,  for 
instance,  in  realizing  the  immense  antiquity  of  the  Sak- 
karah  pyramid,  it  is  some  help  to  remember  that  from  the 
time  when  it  was  built  by  King  Ouenephes  to  the  time 
when  King  Khufu  erected  the  great  pyramid  of  Ghizeh, 
there  probably  lies  a  space  of  years  equivalent  to  that 
which,  in  the   history  of  England,  extends  from  the  date 

*  The  actual  tomb  of  Prince  Klia-em-uas  lias  been  found  at  Mem- 
phis by  M.  Maspero  within  the  last  three  or  four  years.  [Note  to 
second  edition.] 

\  The  date  is  Mariette's. 


60  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

of  the  conquest  to  the  accession  of  George  II.*  And  yet 
Klmfu  himself — the  Cheops  of  the  Greek  historians — is 
but  a  shadowy  figure  hovering  upon  the  threshold  of 
Egyptian  history. 

And  now  the  desert  is  left  behind  and  we  are  nearing 
the  palms  that  lead  to  Memphis.  We  have,  of  course,  been 
dipping  into  Herodotus — every  one  takes  Herodotus  up  the 
Nile — and  our  heads  are  full  of  the  ancient  glories  of  this 
famous  city.  We  know  that  Mena  turned  the  course  of 
the  river  in  order  to  build  it  on  this  very  spot,  and  that  all 
the  most  illustrious  Pharaohs  adorned  it  with  temples, 
palaces,  pylons  and  precious  sculptures.  We  had  read  of 
the  great  Temple  of  Ptah  that  Pameses  the  Great  enriched 
with  colossi  of  himself;  and  of  the  sanctuary  where  Apis 
lived  in  state,  taking  his  exercise  in  a  pillared  court-yard 
where  every  column  was  a  statue;  and  of  the  artificial  lake 
and  the  sacred  groves  and  the  obelisks  and  all  the  wonders 
of  a  city  which,  even  in  its  later  days,  was  one  of  the  most 
populous  in  Egypt. 

Thinking  over  these  things  by  the  way,  Ave  agree  that 
it  is  well  to  have  left  Memphis  till  the  last.  We  shall 
appreciate  it  the  better  for  having  first  seen  that  other  city 
on  the  edge  of  the  desert  to  which,  for  nearlv  six  thousand 
years,  all  Memphis  was  quietly  migrating,  generation 
after  generation.  We  know  now  how  poor  folk  labored,  and 
how  great  gentlemen  amused  themselves,  in  those  early 
days  when  there  were  hundreds  of  country  gentlemen  like 
Ti,  with  town-houses  at  Memphis  and  villas  by  the  Nile. 
From  the  Serapeum,  too,  buried  and  ruined  as  it  is,  one 
cannot  but  come  away  with  a  profound  impression  of  the 
splendor  and  power  of  a  religion  which  could  command 
for  its  myths  such  faith,  such  homage,  and  such  public 
works. 

And  now  we  are  once  more  in  the  midst  of  the  palm- 

*  There  was  no  worship  of  Apis  in  the  days  of  King  Ouenephes, 
nor,  indeed,  until  the  reign  of  Kaiechos,  more  than  one  hundred  and 
twenty  years  after  his  time.  But  at  some  subsequent  period  of  the 
ancient  empire  his  pyramid  was  appropriated  by  the  priests  of 
Memphis  for  the  mummies  of  the  sacred  bulls.  This,  of  course, 
was  done  before  any  of  the  known  Apis  catacombs  were  excavated. 
There  are  doubtless  many  more  of  these  catacombs  yet  undis- 
covered, nothing  prior  to  the  eighteenth  dynasty  having  yet  been 
found. 


SAKKARA1I  AND  MEMPHIS.  61 

woods,  threading  our  way  among  the  same  mounds  that 
we  passed  in  the  morning.  Presently  those  in  front  strike 
away  from  the  beaten  road  across  a  grassy  flat  to  the  right; 
and  the  next  moment  we  are  all  gathered  round  the  brink 
of  a  muddy  pool,  in  the  midst  of  which  lies  a  shapeless 
block  of  blackened  and  corroded  limestone.  This,  it  seems, 
is  the  famous  prostrate  colossus  of  Rameses  the  Great, 
which  belongs  to  the  British  nation,  but  which  the  British 
government  is  too  economical  to.  remove.*  So  here  it 
lies,  face  downward;  drowned  once  a  year  by  the  Nile; 
visible  only  when  the  pools  left  by  the  inundation  have 
evaporated,  and  all  the  muddy  hollows  are  dried  up.  It  is 
one  of  two  which  stood  at  the  entrance  to  the  great  Temple 
of  Ptah;  and  by  those  who  have  gone  down  into  the  hollow 
and  seen  it  from  below  in  the  dry  season,  it  is  reported  of 
as  a  noble  and  very  beautiful  specimen  of  one  of  the  best 
periods  of  Egyptian  art. 

Where,  however,  is  the  companion  colossus?  Where  is 
the  temple  itself?  Where  are  the  pylons,  the  obelisk,  the 
avenues  of  sphinxes?     Where,  in  short,  is  Memphis? 

The  dragoman  shrugs  his  shoulders  and  points  to  the 
barren  mounds  among  the  palms. 

They  look  like  gigantic  dust-heaps  and  stand  from 
thirty  to  forty  feet  above  the  plain.  Nothing  grows  upon 
them,  save  here  and  there  a  tuft  of  stunted  palm;  and 
their  substance  seems  to  consist  chiefly  of  crumbled  brick, 
broken  potsherds,  and  fragments  of  limestone.  Some 
few  traces  of  brick  foundations  and  an  occasional  block  or 
two  of  shaped  stone  are  to  be  seen  in  places  low  down 
against  the  foot  of  one  or  two  of  the  mounds;  but  one 
looks  in  vain  for  any  sign  which  might  indicate  the  out- 
line of  a  boundary  wall  or  the  position  of  a  great  public 
building. 

And  is  this  all? 

No — not  quite  all.  There  are  some  mud-huts  yonder, 
in  among  the  trees;  and  in  front  of  one  of  these  we  find 
a  number  of  sculptured  fragments — battered  sphinxes, 
torsos  without  legs,  sitting  figures  without  heads — 
in  green,  black,  and  red  granite.  Ranged  in  an  irregu- 
lar  semicircle  on  the  sward,   they  seem  to  sit  in  forlorn 

*  This  colussus  is  now  raised  upon  a  brick  pedestal.  [Note  to 
second  edition.] 


G2  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

conclave,  half  solemn,  half  ludicrous,  with  the  goats 
browsing  round,  and  the  little  Arab  children  hiding 
behind  them. 

Near  this,  in  another  pool,  lies  another  red-granite 
colossus — not  the  fellow  to  that  which  we  saw  first,  but  a 
smaller  one — also  face  downward. 

And  this  is  all  that  remains  of  Memphis,  eldest  of  cities 
— a  few  huge  rubbish-heaps,  a  dozen  or  so  of  broken 
statues,  and  a  name!  One  looks  round  and  tries  in  vain 
to  realize  the  lost  splendors  of  the  place.  Where  is  the 
Memphis  that  King  Mena  came  from  Thinis  to  found — 
the  Memphis  of  Ouenephes,  and  Khufa,  and  Khafra,  and 
all  the  early  kings  who  built  their  pyramid-tombs  in  the 
adjacent  desert?  Where  is  the  Memphis  of  Herodotus,  of 
Strabo,  of  Abd-el-Latif  ?  Where  are  those  stately  ruins 
which,  even  in  the  middle  ages,  extended  over  a  space 
estimated  at  "half  a  day's  journey  in  every  direction"? 
One  can  hardly  believe  that  a  great  city  ever  flourished 
on  this  spot,  or  understand  how  it  should  have  been 
effaced  so  utterly.  Yet  here  it  stood — here  where  the 
grass  is  green,  and  the  palms  are  growing,  and  the 
Arabs  build  their  hovels  on  the  verge  of  the  inunda- 
tion. The  great  colossus  marks  the  site  of  the  main 
entrance  to  the  Temple  of  Ptah.  It  lies  where  it  fell,  and 
no  man  has  moved  it.  That  tranquil  sheet  of  palm- 
fringed  back-water,  beyond  which  we  see  the  village  of 
Mitrahlneh  and  catch  a  distant  glimpse  of  the  pyramids  of 
Ghizeh,  occupies  the  basin  of  a  vast  artificial  lake  exca- 
vated by  Mena.  The  very  name  of  Memphis  survives  in 
the  dialect  of  the  fellah,  who  calls  the  place  of  the 
mounds  Tell'  Monf* — just  as  Sakkarah  fossilizes  the  name 
of  Sokari,  one  of  the  special  denominations  of  the  Mem- 
phite  Osiris. 

No  capital  in  the  world  dates  so  far  back  as  this  or  kept 
it  place  in  history  so  long.  Founded  four  thousand  years 
before  our  era,  it  beheld  the  rise  and  fall  of  thirty-one 
dynasties  ;  it  survived  the  rule  of  the  Persian,  the  Greek, 
and  the  Roman  ;  it  was,  even  in  its  decadence,  second  only 

*  Tell:  Arabic  for  mound.  Many  of  the  mounds  preserve  the 
ancient  names  of  the  cities  they  entomb  ;  as  Tell  Basta  (Bubastis); 
Kom  Ombo  (Ombos) ;  etc.,  etc.  Tell  and  Horn  are  synonymous 
terms. 


8 ARK AR All  AND  MEMPHIS.  63 

to  Alexandria  in  population  and  extent :  and  it  continued 
to  be  inhabited  up  to  the  time  of  the  Arab  invasion.  It 
then  became  the  quarry  from  which  Fostat  (old  Cairo)  was 
built;  and  as  the  new  city  rose  on  the  eastern  bank  the 
people  of  Memphis  quickly  abandoned  their  ancient 
capital  to  desolation  and  decay. 

Still  a  vast  field  of  ruins  remained.  Abd-el-Latif, 
writing  at  the  commencement  of  the  thirteenth  century, 
speaks  with  enthusiasm  of  the  colossal  statues  and  lions, 
the  enormous  pedestals,  the  archways  formed  of  only  three 
stones,  the  bas-reliefs  and  other  wonders  that  were  yet  to 
be  seen  upon  the  spot.  Marco  Polo,  if  his  wandering 
tastes  had  led  him  to  the  Nile,  might  have  found  some  of 
the  palaces  and  temples  of  Memphis  still  standing ;  and 
Sandys,  who  in  a.d.  1G10  went  at  least  as  far  south  of 
Cairo  as  Kafr  el  Iyat,  says  that  "  up  the  river  for  twenty 
miles  space  there  was  nothing  but  mines."  Since  then, 
however,  the  very  "mines"  have  vanished;  the  palms 
have  had  time  to  grow ;  and  modern  Cairo  has  doubtless 
absorbed  all  the  building  material  that  remained  from  the 
middle  ages. 

Memphis  is  a  place  to  read  about,  and  think  about,  and 
remember;  but  it  is  a  disappointing  place  to  see.  To  miss 
it,  however,  would  be  to  miss  the  first  link  in  the  whole 
chain  of  monumental  history  which  unites  the  Egypt  of 
antiquity  with  the  world  of  to-day.  Those  melancholy 
mounds  and  that  heron-haunted  lake  must  be  seen,  if  only 
that  they  may  take  their  due  place  in  the  picture-gallery  of 
one's  memory. 

It  had  been  a  long  day's  work,  but  it  came  to  an  end  at 
last ;  and  as  we  trotted  our  donkeys  back  toward  the 
river  a  gorgeous  sunset  was  crimsoning  the  palms  and 
pigeon-towers  of  Bedreshayn.  Everything  seemed  now  to 
be  at  rest.  A  buffalo,  contemplatively  chewing  the  cud, 
lay  close  against  the  path  and  looked  at  us  without  moving. 
The  children  and  pigeons  were  gone  to  bed.  The  pots  had 
baked  in  the  sun  and  been  taken  in  long  since.  A  tiny 
column  of  smoke  went  up  here  and  there  from  amid  the 
clustered  huts  ;  but  there  was  scarcely  a  moving  creature 
to  be  seen.  Presently  we  passed  a  tall,  beautiful  fellah 
woman  standing  grandly  by  the  wayside,  with  her  veil 
thrown  back  and  falling  in  long  folds  to  her  feet.  She 
smiled,  put  out  her  hand,  and  murmnr'd  "bakhshish!" 


64  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Her  fingers  were  covered  with  rings  and  her  arms  with 
silver  bracelets.  She  begged  because  to  beg  is  honorable, 
and  customary,  and  a  master  of  inveterate  habit  ;  but  she 
evidently  neither  expected  nor  needed  the  bakhshish  she 
condescended  to  ask  for. 

A  few  moments  more  and  the  sunset  has  faded,  the 
village  is  left  behind,  the  last  half-mile  of  plain  is  trotted 
over.  And  now — hungry,  thirsty,  dusty,  worn  out  with 
new  knowledge,  new  impressions,  new  ideas — we  are  once 
more  at  home  and  at  rest. 


BEDBESHATN  TO  MINIEH.  G5 


CHAPTER  V. 

BEDRESHAYN   TO   MINIEH. 

It  is  the  rule  of  the  Nile  to  hurry  up  the  river  as  fast  as 
possible,  leaving  the  ruins  to  be  seen  as  the  bout  conies 
back  with  the  current;  but  this,  like  many  another  canon, 
is  by  no  means  of  universal  application.  The  traveler  who 
starts  late  in  the  season  has,  indeed,  no  other  course  open 
to  him.  He  must  press  on  with  speed  to  the  end  of  his 
journey,  if  he  would  get  back  again  at  low  Nile  without 
being  irretrievably  stuck  on  a  sand-bank  till  the  next  inun- 
dation floats  him  off  again.  But  for  those  who  desire  not 
only  to  see  the  monuments,  but  to  follow,  however  super- 
ficially, the  course  of  Egyptian  history  as  it  is  handed 
down  through  Egyptian  art,  it  is  above  all  things  necessary 
to  start  early  and  to  see  many  things  by  the  way. 

For  the  history  of  ancient  Egypt  goes  against  the  stream. 
The  earliest  monuments  lie  between  Cairo  and  Siout,  while 
the  latest  temples  to  the  old  gods  are  chiefly  found  in 
Nubia.  Those  travelers,  therefore,  wdio  hurry  blindly 
forward  with  or  without  a  wind,  now  sailing,  now  tracking, 
now  punting,  passing  this  place  by  night,  and  that  by  day, 
and  never  resting  till  they  have  gained  the  farthest  point 
of  their  journey,  begin  at  the  wrong  end  and  see  all  their 
sights  in  precisely  inverse  order.  Memphis  and  Sakkarah 
and  the  tombs  of  Beni  Hassan  should  undoubtedly  he 
visited  on  the  way  up.  So  should  El  Kab  and  Tell  el 
Amarna,  and  the  oldest  parts  of  Karnak  and  Luxor.  It  is 
not  necessary  to  delay  long  at  any  of  these  places.  They 
may  be  seen  cursorily  on  the  way  up,  and  be  more  carefully 
studied  on  the  way  down;  but  they  should  be  seen  as  they 
come,  no  matter  at  what  trifling  cost  of  present  delay  and 
despite  any  amount  of  ignorant  opposition.  For  in  this 
way  only  is  it  possible  to  trace  the  progression  and  retro- 
gression of  the  arts  from  the  pyramid-builders  to  the 
Caesars;  or  to  understand  at  the  time  and  on  the  spot   in 


66  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

what  order  that  vast  and  august  procession  of  dynasties 
swept  across  the  stage  of  history. 

For  ourselves,  as  will  presently  be  seen,  it  happened  that 
Ave  could  carry  only  a  part  of  this  programme  into  effect; 
but  that  part,  happily,  was  the  most  important.  AVe  never 
ceased  to  congratulate  ourselves  on  having  made  ac- 
quaintance with  the  pyramids  of  Grhizeh  and  Sakkarah 
before  seeing  the  tombs  of  the  kings  at  Thebes;  and  1  feel 
that  it  is  impossible  to  overestimate  the  advantage  of 
studying  the  sculptures  of  the  tomb  of  Ti  before  one's 
taste  is  brought  into  contact  with  the  debased  style  of 
Denderah  and  Esneh.  We  began  the  great  book,  in  short, 
as  it  always  should  be  begun — at  its  first  page;  thereby  ac- 
quiring just  that  necessary  insight  without  which  many  an 
after-chapter  must  have  lost  more  than  half  its  interest. 

If  I  seem  to  insist  upon  this  point  it  is  because  things 
contrary  to  custom  need  a  certain  amount  of  insistance 
and  are  sure  to  be  met  by  opposition.  No  dragoman,  for 
example,  could  be  made  to  understand  the  importance  of 
historical  sequence  in  a  matter  of  this  kind;  especially  in 
the  case  of  a  contract  trip.  To  him,  Khufu,  Kameses  and 
the  Ptolemies  are  one.  As  for  the  monuments,  they  are 
all  ancient  Egyptian,  and  one  is  just  as  odd  and  unintel- 
ligible as  another.  He  cannot  quite  understand  why 
travelers  come  so  far  and  spend  so  much  money  to  look  at 
them;  but  he  sets  it  down  to  a  habit  of  harmless  curiosity — 
by  which  he  profits. 

The  truth  is,  however,  that  the  mere  sight-seeing  of  the 
Nile  demands  some  little  reading  and  organizing,  if  only 
to  be  enjoyed.  We  cannot  all  be  profoundly  learned;  but 
we  can  at  least  do  our  best  to  understand  what  we  see — to 
get  rid  of  obstacles — to  put  the  right  thing  in  the  right 
place.  For  the  land  of  Egypt  is,  as  I  have  said,  a  great 
book — not  very  easy  reading,  perhaps,  under  any  circum- 
stances; but  at  all  events  quite  difficult  enough  already 
without  the  added  puzzlement  of  being  read  backward. 

And  now  our  next  point  along  the  river,  as  well  as  our  next 
link  in  the  chain  of  early  monuments,  was  Beni  Hassan, 
with  its  famous  rock-cut  tombs  of  the  twelfth  dynasty;  and 
Beni  Hassan  was  still  more  than  a  hundred  and  forty-five 
miles  distant.  We  ought  to  have  gone  on  again  directly — 
to  have  weighed  anchor  and  made  a  few  miles  that  very 
evening  on  returning  to  the  boats;  but  we  insisted  on  a  second 


BEDRESHAYN  TO  MINIEH.  67 

day  in  the  same  place.  This,  too,  with  the  favorable  wind 
still  blowing.  It  was  against  all  rule  and  precedent.  The 
captain  shook  his  head,  the  dragoman  remonstrated  in 
vain. 

"You  will  come  to  learn  the  value  of  a  wind  when  you 
have  been  longer  on  the  Nile,"  said  the  latter,  with  that  air 
of  melancholy  resignation  which  he  always  assumed  when 
not  allowed  to  have  his  own  way.  He  was  an  indolent, 
good-tempered  man,  spoke  English  fairly  well,  and  was 
perfectly  manageable;  but  that  air  of  resignation  came  to 
be  aggravating  in  time. 

The  M.  B.'s  being  of  the  same  mind,  however,  we  had 
our  second  day,  and  spent  it  at  Memphis.  We  ought  to 
have  crossed  over  to  Turra  and  have  seen  the  great  quarries 
from  which  the  casing-stones  of  the  pyramids  came,  and 
all  the  finer  limestone  with  which  the  temples  and 
palaces  of  Memphis  were  built.  But  the  whole  mountain 
side  seemed  as  if  glowing  at  a  white  heat  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  river,  and  wTe  said  we  would  put  off  Turra  till 
our  return.  So  we  went  our  own  way;  and  Alfred  shot 
pigeons;  and  the  writer  sketched  Mitrabineh  and  the 
palms  and  the  sacred  Lake  of  Mena;  and  the  rest  grubbed 
among  the  mounds  for  treasure,  finding  many  curious 
fragments  of  glass  and  pottery,  and  part  of  an  engraved 
bronze  Apis;  and  we  had  a  green,  tranquil,  lovely  day,  bar- 
ren of  incident,  but  very  pleasant  to  remember. 

The  good  wind  continued  to  blow  all  that  night,  but  fell 
at  sunrise,  precisely  when  we  were  about  to  start.  The 
river  now  stretched  away  before  us,  smooth  as  glass,  and 
there  was  nothing  for  it,  said  Eei's  Hassan,  but  tracking. 
We  had  heard  of  tracking  often  enough  since  coming  to 
Egypt,  but  without  having  any  definite  idea  of  the  process. 
Coming  on  deck,  however,  before  breakfast,  we  found 
nine  of  our  poor  fellows  harnessed  to  a  rope  like  barge- 
horses,  towing  the  huge  boat  against  the  current.  Seven 
of  the  M.  B.s'  crew,  similarly  harnessed,  followed  at  a  few 
yards'  distance.  The  two  ropes  met  and  crossed  and 
dipped  into  the  water  together.  Already  our  lust  night's 
mooring  place  was  out  of  sight,  and  the  pyramid  of  Ouen- 
ephes  stood  up  amid  its  lesser  brethren  on  the  edge  of  the 
desert,  as  if  bidding  us  good -by.  But  the  sight  of  the 
trackers  jarred,  somehow,  with  the  placid  beauty  of  the 
picture,     We  got  used  to  it,  as  one  gets  used  to  everything, 


68  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

in  time;  but  it  looked  like  slaves'  work  and  shocked  our 
English  notions  disagreeably. 

That  morning,  still  tracking,  we  pass  the  pyramids  of 
Dahshur.  A  dilapidated  brick  pyramid  standing  in  the 
midst  of  them  looks  like  an  aiguille  of  black  rock  thrusting 
itself  up  through  the  limestone  bed  of  the  desert.  Palms 
line  the  bank  and  intercept  the  view,  but  we  catch  flitting 
glimpses  here  and  there,  looking  out  especially  for  that 
dome-like  pyramid  which  we  observed  the  other  day 
from  Sakkarah.  Seen  in  the  full  sunlight,  it  looks  larger 
and  whiter  and  more  than  ever  like  the  roof  of  the  old 
Palais  de  Justice  far  away  in  Paris. 

Thus  the  morning  passes.  We  sit  on  deck  writing  letters, 
reading,  watching  the  sunny  river-side  pictures  that  glide  by 
at  a  foot's  pace,  and  are  so  long  in  sight.  Palm-groves, 
sand-banks,  patches  of  fuzzy-headed  dura*  and  fields  of 
some  yellow-flowering  herb  succeed  each  other.  A  boy 
plods  along  the  bank,  leading  a  camel.  They  go  slowly, 
but  they  soon  leave  us  behind.  A  native  boat  meets  us, 
floating  down  sidewise  with  the  current.  A  girl  comes  to 
the  water's  edge  with  a  great  empty  jar  on  her  head 
and  waits  to  fill  it  till  the  trackers  have  gone  by. 
The  pigeon-towers  of  a  mud  village  peep  above  a  clump 
of  lebbek  trees,  a  quarter  of  a  mile  inland.  Here  a  solitary 
brown  man,  with  only  a  felt  skull-cap  on  his  head  and  a 
slip  of  scanty  tunic  fastened  about  his  loins,  worksa  shaduf.f 

*  Sorghum  vulgare. 

f  The  shadfif  has  been  so  well  described  by  the  Kev.  F.  B.  Zincke 
that  I  cannot  do  better  than  quote  him  verbatim:  "Mechanically, 
the  shadoof  is  an  application  of  the  lever.  In  no  machine  which  the 
wit  of  man,  aided  by  the  accumulation  of  science,  has  since  invented, 
is  the  result  produced  so  great  in  proportion  to  the  degree  of  power 
employed.  The  level  of  the  shadoof  is  a  long  stout  pole  poised  on  a 
prop.  The  pole  is  at  right  angles  to  the  river.  A  large  lump  of 
clay  from  the  spot  is  appended  to  the  inland  end.  To  the  river  end 
is  supended  a  goat-skin  bucket.  This  is  the  whole  apparatus.  The 
man  who  is  working  it  stands  on  the  edge  of  the  river.  Before  him 
is  a  hole  full  of  water  fed  from  the  passing  stream.  When  work- 
ing the  machine  he  takes  hold  of  the  cord  by  which  the  empty 
bucket  is  suspended,  and,  bending  down,  by  the  mere  weight  of  his 
shoulders  dips  it  in  the  water.  His  effort  to  rise  gives  the  bucket 
full  of  water  an  upward  cant,  which,  with  the  aid  of  the  equipoising 
lump  of  clay  at  the  other  end  of  the  pole,  lifts  it  to  a  trough  into 
which,  as  it  tilts  on  one  side,  it  empties  its  contents.  What  he  has 
done  has  raised  the  water  six  or  seven  feet  above  the  level  of  the 


BEDRES1IAYN  TO  MINIEH. 


09 


stooping  and  rising,  stooping  and  rising,  with  the  regu- 
larity ofa  pendulum.  It  is  the  same  machine  which  we 
shall  see  by  and  by  depicted  in  the  tombs  at  Thebes ;  and 


■    - 


THE    S1IADUP. 


the  man  is  so  evidently  an  ancient  Egyptian,  that  we  find 
ourselves  wondering  how  he  escaped  being  mummified  four 
or  five  thousand  years  ago. 

river.  But  if  the  river  lias  subsided  twelve  or  fourteen  feet,  it  will 
require  another  shadoof  to  be  worked  in  the  trough  into  which  the 
water  of  the  first  has  been  brought.  If  the  river  has  sunk  still  more, 
a  third  will  be  required  before  it  can  be  lifted  to  the  top  of  the  bank, 
so  as  to  enable  it  to  flow  off  to  the  fields  that  require  irrigation."— 
"  Egypt  of  the  Pharaohs  and  the  Khedive,"  p.  445  et  seq. 


70  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

By  and  by  a  little  breeze  springs  up.  The  men 
drop  the  rope  and  jump  on  board — the  big  sail  is  set — 
—  the  breeze  freshens  —  and  away  we  go  agaiu,  as 
merrily  as  the  day  we  left  Cairo.  Toward  sunset  we 
see  a  strange  object,  like  a  giant  obelisk  broken  off  half- 
way, standing  up  on  the  western  bank  against  an  orange- 
gold  sky.  This  is  the  pyramid  of  Meydum,  commonly 
called  the  false  pyramid.  It  looks  quite  near  the  bank; 
but  this  is  an  effect  of  powerful  light  and  shadow,  for  it 
lies  back  at  least  four  miles  from  the  river.  That  night, 
having  sailed  on  till  past  nine  o'clock,  we  moor  about  a 
mile  from  Beni  Suef,  and  learn  with  some  surprise  that  a 
man  must  be  dispatched  to  the  governor  of  the  town  for 
guards.  Not  that  anything  ever  happened  to  anybody  at 
Beni  Su6f,  says  Talhamy  :  but  that  the  place  is  supposed 
not  to  have  a  first-rate  reputation.  If  we  have  guards,  we 
at  all  events  make  the  governor  responsible  for  our  safety 
and  the  safety  of  our  possessions.  So  the  guards  are  sent 
for;  and  being  posted  on  the  bank,  snore  loudly  all  night 
long,  just  outside  our  windows. 

Meanwhile  the  wind  shifts  round  to  the  south,  and  next 
morning  it  blows  full  in  our  faces.  The  men,  however, 
track  up  to  Beni  Suef  to  a  point  where  the  buildings  come 
down  to  the  water's  edge  and  the  towing-path  ceases;  and 
there  we  lay  to  for  awhile  among  a  fleet  of  filthy  native 
boats,  close  to  the  landing-place. 

The  approach  to  Beni  Suef  is  rather  pretty.  The 
khedive  has  an  Italian-looking  villa  here,  which  peeps  up 
white  and  dazzling  from  the  midst  of  a  thickly  wooded 
park.  The  town  lies  back  a  little  from  the  river.  A  few 
coffee-houses  and  a  kind  of  promenade  face  the  landing- 
place;  and  a  mosque  built  to  the  verge  of  the  bank  stands 
out  picturesquely  against  the  bend  of  the  river. 

And  now  it  is  our  object  to  turn  that  corner,  so  as  to 
get  into  a  better  position  for  starting  when  the  wind 
drops.  The  current  here  runs  deep  and  strong,  so  that  we 
have  both  wind  and  water  dead  against  us.  Half  our  men 
clamber  round  the  corner  like  cats,  carrying  the  rope  with 
them;  the  rest  keep  the  dahabeeyah  off  the  bank  with 
punting  poles.  The  rope  strains  —  a  pole  breaks  —  we 
struggle  forward  a  few  feet  and  can  get  no  farther.  Then 
the  men  rest  awhile;  try  again;  and  are  again  defeated. 
So  the  fight  goes  on.     The  promeuade  and  the  windows  of 


BEDRESHA  TN  TO  MINIEH.  71 

the  mosque  become  gradually  crowded  with  lookers  on. 
Some  three  or  four  cloaked  and  bearded  men  have  chairs 
brought  and  sit  gravely  smoking  their  chibouques  on  the 
bank  above,  enjoying  the  entertainment.  Meanwhile  the 
water-carriers  come  and  go,  filling  their  goat-skins  at  the 
landing-place;  donkeys  and  camels  are  brought  down  to 
drink;  girls  in  dark-blue  gowns  and  coarse  black  veils  come 
with  huge  water-jars  laid  sidewise  upon  their  heads  and, 
having  filled  and  replaced  them  upright,  walk  away  with 
stately  steps,  as  if  each  ponderous  vessel  were  a  crown. 

So  the  day  passes.  Driven  back  again  and  again,  but 
still  resolute,  our  sailors,  by  dint  of  sheer  doggedness,  get 
us  round  the  bad  corner  at  last.  The  Bagstones  follows 
suit  a  little  later;  and  we  both  moor  about  a  quarter  of  a 
mile  above  the  town.  Then  follows  a  night  of  adventures. 
Again  our  guards  sleep  profoundly;  but  the  bad  characters 
of  Beni  Suef  are  very  wide  awake.  One  gentleman,  actu- 
ated no  doubt  by  the  friendliest  motives,  pays  a  midnight 
visit  to  the  Bagstones;  but  being  detected,  chased  and  fired 
at,  escapes  by  jumping  overboard.  Our  turn  comes  about 
two  hours  later,  when  the  writer,  happening  to  be  awake, 
hears  a  man  swim  softly  round  the  Phila?.  To  strike  a 
light  and  frighten  everybody  into  sudden  activity  is  the 
work  of  a  moment.  The  whole  boat  is  instantly  in  an  up- 
roar. Lanterns  are  lighted  on  deck;  a  patrol  of  sailors  is 
set;  Talhamy  loads  his  gun;  and  the  thief  slips  away  in 
the  dark  like  a  fish. 

The  guards,  of  course,  slept  sweetly  through  it  all. 
Honest  fellows!  They  were  paid  a  shilling  a  night  to  do 
it  and  they  had  nothing  on  their  minds. 

Having  lodged  a  formal  complaint  next  morning  against 
the  inhabitants  of  the  town,  we  received  a  visit  from  a  sal- 
low personage  clad  in  a  long  black  robe  and  a  voluminous 
white  turban.  This  was  the  chief  of  the  guards.  He 
smoked  a  great  many  pipes  ;  drank  numerous  cups  of 
coffee;  listened  to  all  we  had  to  say  ;  looked  wise  ;  and 
finally  suggested  that  the  number  of  our  guards  should  be 
doubled. 

I  ventured  to  object  that  if  they  slept  unanimously  forty 
would  not  be  of  much  more  use  than  four.  Whereupon 
he  rose,  drew  himself  to  his  full  height,  touched  his  beard 
and  said  with  a  magnificent  melodramatic  air:  "  If  they 
sleep  they  shall  be  bastinadoed  till  they  die  \" 


72  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

And  now  our  good  luck  seemed  to  have  deserted  us. 
For  three  days  and  nights  the  adverse  wind  continued  to 
blow  with  such  force  that  the  men  could  not  even  track 
against  it.  Moored  under  that  dreary  bank,  we  saw  our 
ten  days'  start  melting  away  and  could  only  make  the  best 
of  our  misfortunes.  Happily  the  long  island  close  by  and 
the  banks  on  both  sides  of  the  river  were  populous  with 
sand-grouse  ;  so  Alfred  went  out  daily  with  his  faithful 
George  and  his  unerring  gun  and  brought  home  game  in 
abundance,  while  we  took  long  walks,  sketched  boats  and 
camels  and  chaffered  with  native  women  for  silver  torques 
and  bracelets.  These  torques  (in  Arabic  Toh)  are  tubular 
but  massive,  penannular,  about  as  thick  as  one's  little 
finger  and  finished  with  a  hook  at  one  end  and  a  twisted 
loop  at  the  other.  The  girls  would  sometimes  put  their 
veils  aside  and  make  a  show  of  bargaining;  but  more  fre- 
quently, after  standing  for  a  moment  with  great  wonder- 
ing black  velvety  eyes  staring  shyly  into  ours,  they  would 
take  fright  like  a  troop  of  startled  deer  and  vanish  with 
shrill  cries,  half  of  laughter,  half  of  terror. 

At  Beni  Suef  we  encountered  our  first  sand-storm.  It 
came  down  the  river  about  noon,  showing  like  a  yellow  fog 
on  the  horizon  and  rolling  rapidly  before  the  wind.  It 
tore  the  river  into  angry  waves  and  blotted  out  the  land- 
scape as  it  came.  The  distant  hills  disappeared  first;  then 
the  palms  beyond  the  island;  then  the  boats  close  by. 
Another  second  and  the  air  was  full  of  sand.  The  whole 
surface  of  the  plain  seemed  in  motion.  The  banks  rip- 
pled. The  yellow  dust  poured  down  through  every  rift 
and  cleft  in  hundreds  of  tiny  cataracts.  But  it  was  a  sight 
not  to  be  looked  upon  with  impunity.  Hair,  eyes,  mouth, 
ears,  were  instantly  filled  and  we  were  driven  to  take 
refuge  in  the  saloon.  Here,  although  every  window  and 
door  had  been  shut  before  the  storm  came,  the  sand  found 
its  way  in  clouds.  Books,  papers,  carpets,  were  covered 
with  it;  and  it  settled  again  as  fast  as  it  was  cleared  away. 
This  lasted  just  one  hour,  and  was  followed  by  a  burst  of 
heavy  rain;  after  which  the  sky  cleared  and  we  had  a  lovely 
afternoon.  From  this  time  forth,  we  saw  no  more  rain  in 
Egypt. 

At  length,  on  the  morning  of  the  fourth  day  after  our 
first  appearance  at  Beni  Suef  and  the  seventh  since  leaving 
Cairo,  the  wind  veered  round  again  to  the  north,  and  we 


BEDRESI1A  7N  TO  MINIEH.  73 

once  more  got  under  way.  It  was  delightful  to  see  the  big 
sail  again  towering  up  overhead,  and  to  hear  the  swish  of 
the  water  under  the  cabin  windows;  but  we  were  still  one 
hundred  and  nine  miles  from  Rhoda,  and  we  knew  that 
nothing  but  an  extraordinary  run  of  luck  could  possibly  get 
us  there  by  the  twenty-third  of  the  month,  with  time  to  see 
Beni  Hassan  on  the  way.  Meanwhile,  however,  we  make 
fair  progress,  mooring  at  sunset  when  the  wind  falls,  about 
three  miles  north  of  Bibbeh.  Next  day,  by  help  of  the 
same  light  breeze  which  again  springs  up  a  little  after  dawn, 
we  go  at  a  good  pace  between  flat  banks,  fringed  here  and 
there  with  palms,  and  studded  with  villages  more  or  less 
picturesque.  There  is  not  much  to  see,  and  yet  one  never 
wants  for  amusement.  Now  wTe  pass  an  island  of  sand- 
bank covered  with  snow-white  paddy-birds,  which  rise  tu- 
multuously  at  our  approach.  Next  comes  Bibbeh,  perched 
high  along  the  edge  of  the  precipitous  bank,  its  odd-look- 
ing Coptic  convent  roofed  all  over  with  little  mud  domes, 
like  a  cluster  of  earth-bubbles.  By  and  by  we  pass  a  de- 
serted sugar  factory,  with  shattered  windows  and  a  huge, 
gaunt,  blackened  chimney,  worthy  of  Birmingham  or 
Sheffield.  And  now  we  catch  a  glimpse  of  the  railway 
and  hear  the  last  scream  of  a  departing  engine.  At  night, 
we  moor  within  sight  of  the  factory  chimneys  and  hy- 
draulic tubes  of  Magagha,  and  next  day  get  on  nearly  to 
Golosaneh,  which  is  the  last  station-town  before  Minieh. 

It  is  now  only  too  clear  that  we  must  give  up  all  thought 
of  pushing  on  to  Beni  Hassan  before  the  rest  of  the  party 
shall  come  on  board.  We  have  reached  the  evening  of  our 
ninth  day;  we  are  still  forty-eight  miles  from  Rhoda;  and 
another  adverse  wind  might  again  delay  us  indefinitely  on 
the  way.  All  risks  taken  into  account,  we  decide  to  put 
off  our  meeting  till  the  twenty-fourth,  and  transfer  the 
appointment  to  Minieh;  thus  giving  ourselves  time  to  track 
all  the  way  in  case  of  need.  So  an  Arabic  telegram  is  con- 
cocted, and  our  fleet  runner  starts  off  with  it  to  Golosaneh 
before  the  office  closes  for  the  night. 

The  breeze,  however,  does  not  fail,  but  comes  back  next 
morning  with  the  dawn.  Having  passed  Golosaneh,  we 
come  to  a  wide  reach  in  the  river,  at  which  point  we  are 
honored  by  a  visit  from  a  Moslem  santon  of  peculiar  sanc- 
tity, named  "  Holy  Sheik  Cotton."  Now  Holy  Sheik 
Cotton,  who  is  a  well-fed,  healthy-looking  young  man  of 


74  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

about  thirty,  makes  his  first  appearance  swimming,  with 
his  garments  twisted  into  a  huge  turban  on  the  top  of  his 
head,  and  only  his  chin  above  water.  Having  made  his 
toilet  in  the  small  boat,  he  presents  himself  on  deck  and 
receives  an  enthusiastic  welcome.  Rei's  Hassan  hugs  him 
— the  pilot  kisses  him — the  sailors  come  up  one  by  one, 
bringing  little  tributes  of  tobacco  and  piasters,  which  he 
accepts  with  the  air  of  a  pope  receiving  Peter's  pence. 
All  dripping  as  he  is,  and  smiling  like  an  affable  Triton,  he 
next  proceeds  to  touch  the  tiller,  the  ropes,  and  the  ends 
of  the  yards,  "in  order/' says  Talhamy,  "to  make  them 
holy;"  and  then,  with  some  kind  of  final  charm  or  mut- 
tered incantation,  he  plunges  into  the  river  again,  and 
swims  off  to  repeat  the  same  performance  on  board  the  Bag- 
stones. 

From  this  moment  the  prosperity  of  our  voyage  is  as- 
sured. The  captain  goes  about  with  a  smile  on  his  stern 
face,  and  the  crew  look  as  happy  as  if  we  had  given  them 
a  guinea.  For  nothing  can  go  wrong  with  a  dahabeeyah 
that  has  been  "  made  holy"  by  Holy  Sheik  Cotton.  We 
are  certain  now  to  have  favorable  winds — to  pass  the  cat- 
aract without  accident — to  come  back  in  health  and  safety, 
as  we  set  out.  But  what,  it  may  be  asked,  has  Holy  Sheik 
Cotton  done  to  make  his  blessing  so  efficacious?  He  gets 
money  in  plenty;  he  fasts  no  oftener  than  other  Moham- 
medans; he  has  two  wives;  he  never  does  a  stroke  of  work; 
and  he  looks  the  picture  of  sleek  prosperity.  Yet  he  is  a 
saint  of  the  first  water;  and  when  he  dies,  miracles  will  be 
performed  at  his  tomb,  and  his  eldest  son  will  succeed  him 
in  the  business. 

We  had  the  pleasure  of  becoming  acquainted  with  a  good 
many  saints  in  the  course  of  our  eastern  travels;  but  I  do 
not  know  that  we  ever  found  they  had  done  anything  to 
merit  the  position.  One  very  horrible  old  man  named 
Sheik  Saleem  has,  it  is  true,  been  sitting  on  a  dirt  heap 
near  Farslmt,  unclothed,  unwashed,  unshaven,  for  the  last 
half-century  or  more,  never  even  lifting  his  hand  to  his 
mouth  to  feed  himself;  but  Sheik  Cotton  had  gone  to  no 
such  pious  lengths,  and  was  not  even  dirty. 

We  are  by  this  time  drawing  toward  a  range  of  yellow 
cliffs  that  have  long  been  visible  on  the  horizon,  and  which 
figure  in  the  maps  as  G-ebel  et  Tayr.  The  Arabian  desert 
has  been  closing  up  on  the  eastern  bank  for  some  time 


BEDRESHA  YN  TO  MINIE1I.  75 

past  and  now  rolls  on  in  undulating  drifts  to  the  water's 
edge.  Yellow  bowlders  crop  out  here  and  there  above  the 
mounded  sand,  which  looks  as  if  it  might  cover  many  a 
forgotten  temple.  Presently  the  clay  bank  is  gone  and  a 
low  barrier  of  limestone  rock,  black  and  shiny  next  the 
water-line,  has  taken  its  place.  And  now,  a  long  way 
ahead,  where  the  river  bends  and  the  level  cliffs  lead  on 
into  the  far  distance,  a  little  brown  speck  is  pointed  out  as 
the  Convent  of  the  Pulley.  Perched  on  the  brink  of  the 
precipice  it  looks  no  bigger  than  an  ant-heap.  "We  had 
heard  much  of  the  fine  view  to  be  seen  from  the  platform 
on  which  this  convent  is  built,  and  it  had  originally 
entered  into  our  programme  as  a  place  to  be  visited  on  the 
way.  But  Minieh  has  to  be  gained  now  at  all  costs;  so 
this  project  has  to  be  abandoned  with  a  sigh. 

And  now  the  rocky  barrier  rises  higher,  quarried  here 
and  there  in  dazzling  gaps  of  snow-white  cuttings.  And 
now  the  convent  shows  clearer ;  and  the  cliffs  become 
loftier;  and  the  bend  in  the  river  is  reached;  and  a  long 
perspective  of  flat-topped  precipice  stretches  away  into  the 
dim  distance. 

It  is  a  day  of  saints  and  swimmers.  As  the  dahabeeyah 
approaches,  a  brown  poll  is  seen  bobbing  up  and  down  in 
the  water  a  few  hundred  yards  ahead.  Then  one,  two, 
three  bronze  figures  clash  down  a  steep  ravine  below  the 
convent  walls,  and  plunge  into  the  river — a  shrill  chorus 
of  voices,  growing  momentarily  more  audible,  is  borne 
upon  the  wind — and  in  a  few  minutes  the  boat  is  beset  by 
a  shoal  of  medicant  monks,  vociferating  with  all  their 
might  "Ana  Christian  ya  Ilawadji! — Ana  Christian  ya 
Hawadji!"  ("I  am  a  Christian,  oh,  traveler!")  As  these  are 
only  Coptic  monks  and  not  Moslem  santons,  the  sailors,  half 
in  rough  play,  half  in  earnest,  drive  them  off  with  punting 
poles;  and  only  one  shivering,  streaming  object,  wrapped 
in  a  borrowed  blanket,  is  allowed  to  come  on  board.  He 
is  a  fine,  shapely  man,  aged  about  forty,  with  splendid  eyes 
and  teeth,  a  well-formed  head,  a  skin  the  color  of  a  copper 
beech-leaf,  and  a  face  expressive  of  such  ignorance,  tim- 
idity, and  half-savage  watchfulness  as  makes  one's  heart 
ache. 

And  this  is  a  Copt;  a  descendant  of  the  true  Egyptian 
stock;  one  of  those  whose  remote  ancestors  exchanged  the 
worship  of  the  old  gods  for  Christianity  under  the  rule  of 


%  A  THOUSAND  MILES  VP  THE  NILE. 

Theodosius  some  fifteen  hundred  years  ago,  and  whose 
blood  is  supposed  to  be  purer  of  Mohammedan  intermixture 
than  any  in  Egypt.  Remembering  these  things,  it  is  im- 
possible to  look  at  him  without  a  feeling  of  profound  in- 
terest. It  may  be  only  fancy,  yet  I  think  I  see  in  him  a 
different  type  to  that  of  the  Arab — a  something,  however 
slight,  which  recalls  the  sculptured  figures  in  the  tomb 
of  Ti. 

But  while  we  are  thinking  about  his  magnificent  pedi- 
gree, our  poor  Copt's  teeth  are  chattering  piteously.  So 
we  give  him  a  shilling  or  two  for  the  sake  of  all  that  he 
represents  in  the  history  of  the  world;  and  with  these  and 
the  donation  of  an  empty  bottle,  he  swims  away  contented, 
crying  out  again  and  again:  " Ketther-Jchayrak  Sittdt! 
KeWier-MdyrakTceteer!"  ("Thank  you,  ladies!  thank  you 
much!") 

And  now  the  convent  with  its  clustered  domes  is  passed 
and  left  behind.  The  rock  here  is  of  the  same  rich  tawny 
hue  as  at  Turra,  and  the  horizontal  strata  of  which  it  is 
composed  have  evidently  been  deposited  by  water.  That 
the  Nile  must  at  some  remote  time  have  flowed  here  at  an 
immensely  higher  level  seems  also  probable  ;  for  the  whole 
face  of  the  range  is  honeycombed  and  water-worn  for  miles 
in  succession.  Seeing  how  these  fantastic  forms — arched, 
and  clustered,  and  pendent — resemble  the  recessed  orna- 
mentation of  Saracenic  buildings,  I  could  not  help  won- 
dering whether  some  early  Arab  architect  might  not  once 
upon  a  time  have  taken  a  hint  from  some  such  rocks  as 
these. 

Thus  the  day  wanes,  and  the  level  cliffs  keep  with  us  all 
the  way — now  breaking  into  little  lateral  valleys  and  cvls- 
de-sac  in  which  nestle  clusters  of  tiny  huts  and  green 
patches  of  lupin  ;  now  plunging  sheer  down  into  the  river; 
now  receding  inland  and  leaving  space  for  a  belt  of  culti- 
vated soil  and  a  fringe  of  feathery  palms.  By  and  by 
comes  the  sunset,  when  every  cast  shadow  in  the  recesses 
of  the  cliffs  turns  to  pure  violet;  and  the  face  of  the  rock 
glows  with  a  ruddier  gold;  and  the  palms  on  the  western 
bank  stand  up  in  solemn  bronze  against  a  crimson  horizon. 
Then  the  sun  dips,  and  instantly  the  whole  range  of 
cliffs  turns  to  a  dead,  greenish  gray,  while  the  sky 
above  and  behind  them  is  as  suddenly  suffused  with 
pink.     When  this  effect  has  lasted  for  something  like 


BED  RES  II A  YN  TO  MINI  EH. 


t  i 


eight  minutes,  a  vast  arch  of  deep-blue  shade,  about 
as  large  in  diameter  as  a  rainbow,  creeps  slowly  up 
the  eastern  horizon  and  remains  distinctly  visible  as 
long  as  the  pink  flush  against  which  it  is  defined  yet 
lingers  in  the  sky.  Finally  the  flush  fades  out;  the  blue 
becomes  uniform;  the  stars  begin  to  show;  and  only  a 
broad  glow  in  the  west  marks  which  way  the  sun  went 
down.  About  a  quarter  of  an  hour  later  comes  the  after- 
glow, when  for  a  few  minutes  the  sky  is  filled  with  a  soft, 
magical  light,  and  the  twilight  gloom  lies  warm  upon  the 
landscape.  When  this  goes  it  is  night;  but  still  one  long 
beam  of  light  streams  up  in  the  track  of  the  sun  and 
remains  visible  for  more  than  two  hours  after  the  darkness 
has  closed  in. 

Such  is  the  sunset  we  see  this  evening  as  we  approach 
Minieh;  and  such  is  the  sunset  we  are  destined  to  see,  with 
scarcely  a  shade  of  difference,  at  the  same  hour  and  under 
precisely  the  same  conditions  for  many  a  month  to  come. 
It  is  very  beautiful,  very  tranquil,  full  of  wonderful  light 
and  most  suble  gradations  of  tone,  and  attended  by  certain 
phenomena  of  which  I  shall  have  more  to  say  presently; 
but  it  lacks  the  variety  and  gorgeousness  of  our  northern 
skies.  Nor,  given  the  dry  atmosphere  of  Egypt,  can  it  be 
otherwise.  Those  who  go  up  the  Nile  expecting,  as  I  did, 
to  see  magnificent  Turneresque  pageants  of  purple,  and 
flame-color,  and  gold,  will  be  disappointed  as  I  was.  For 
your  Turneresque  pageant  cannot  be  achieved  without  such 
accessories  of  cloud  and  vapor  as  in  Nubia  are  wholly 
unknown,  and  in  Egypt  are  of  the  rarest  occurrence. 
Once,  and  only  once,  in  the  course  of  an  unusually  pro- 
tracted sojourn  on  the  river,  had  we  the  good  fortune  to 
witness  a  grand  display  of  the  kind;  and  then  we  had  been 
nearly  three  months  in  the  dahabeeyah. 

Meanwhile,  however,  we  never  weary  of  these  stainless 
skies,  but  find  in  them,  evening  after  evening,  fresh  depths 
of  beauty  and  repose.  As  for  that  strange  transfer  of  color 
from  the  mountains  to  the  sky,  we  had  repeatedly  observed 
it  while  traveling  in  the  Dolomites  the  year  before,  and 
had  always  found  it  take  place,  as  now,  at  the  moment  of 
the  sun's  first  disappearance.  But  what  of  this  mighty 
after-shadow,  climbing  half  the  heavens  and  bringing 
night  with  it  ?  Can  it  be  the  rising  shadow  of  the  world 
projected  on  the  one  horizon  as  the  sun  sinks  on  the  other? 


78  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

I  leave  the  problem  for  wiser  travelers  to  solve.     We  had 
not  science  enough  among  us  to  account  for  it. 

That  same  evening,  just  as  the  twilight  came  on,  we  saw 
another  wonder —  the  new  moon  on  the  first  night  of  her 
first  quarter;  a  perfect  orb,  dusky,  distinct,  and  outlined 
all  round  with  a  thread  of  light  no  thicker  than  a  hair. 
Nothing  could  be  more  brilliant  than  this  tiny  l'im  of 
flashing  silver;  while  every  detail  of  the  softly  glowing 
globe  within  its  compass  was  clearly  visible.  Tycho,  with 
its  vast  crater,  showed  like  a  volcano  on  a  raised  map  ;  and 
near  the  edge  of  the  moon's  surface,  where  the  light  and 
shadow  met,  keen  sparkles  of  mountain-summits  catching 
the  light  and  relieved  against  the  dusk  were  to  be  seen  by 
the  naked  eye.  Two  or  three  evenings  later,  however, 
when  the  silver  ring  was  changed  to  a  broad  crescent,  the 
unilluminated  part  was  as  if  it  were  extinguished,  and  could 
no  longer  be  discerned  even  by  help  of  a  glass. 

The  wind  having  failed  as  usual  at  sunset,  the  crew  set  to 
work  with  a  will  and  punted  the  rest  of  the  way,  so  bring- 
ing us  to  Minieh  about  nine  that  night.  Next  morning 
we  found  ourselves  moored  close  under  the  khedive's  sum- 
mer palace — so  close  that  one  could  have  tossed  a  pebble 
against  the  lattice  windows  of  his  highness'  hareem.  A  fat 
gate-keeper  sat  outside  in  the  sun,  smoking  his  morning 
chibouque  and  gossiping  with  the  passers  by.  A  narrow 
promenade  scantily  planted  with  sycamore  figs  ran  between 
the  palace  and  the  river.  A  steamer  or  two,  and  a  crowd 
of  native  boats,  lay  moored  under  the  bank;  and  yonder, 
at  the  farther  end  of  the  promenade,  a  minaret  and  a 
cluster  of  whitewashed  houses  showed  which  way  one  must 
turn  in  going  to  the  town. 

It  chanced  to  be  market-day;  so  we  saw  Minieh  under 
its  best  aspect,  than  which  nothing  could  well  be  more 
squalid,  dreary,  and  depressing.  It  was  like  a  town 
dropped  unexpectedly  into  the  midst  of  a  plowed  field  ; 
the  streets  being  mere  trodden  lanes  of  mud  dust,  and  the 
houses  a  succession  of  windowless  mud  prisons  with  their 
backs  to  the  thoroughfare.  The  bazaar,  which  consists  of 
two  or  three  lanes  a  little  wider  than  the  rest,  is  roofed 
over  here  and  there  with  rotting  palm-rafters  and  bits  of 
tattered  matting  ;  while  the  market  is  held  in  a  space  of 
waste  ground  outside  the  town.  The  former,  with  its 
little  cupboard-like  shops,  in  which  the  merchants  sit  cross- 


BEDRES1IAYN  TO  MINIEH.  79 

legged  like  shabby  old  idols  in  shabby  old  shrines — the 
ill-furnished  shelves — the  familiar  Manchester  goods — the 
gaudy  native  stuffs  —  the  old  red  saddles  and  faded  rugs 
hanging  up  for  sale  —  the  smart  Greek  stores  where  Bass' 
ale,  claret,  curacoa,  Cyprus,  Vermouth,  cheese,  pickles, 
sardines,  Worcester  sauce,  blacking,  biscuits,  preserved 
meats,  candles,  cigars,  matches,  sugar,  salt,  stationery 
fire-works,  jams,  and  patent  medicines  can  all  be  bought  at 
one  fell  swoop  —  the  native  cook's  shop  exhaling  savory 
perfumes  of  Kebabs  and  lentil  soup,  and  presided  over  by 
an  Abyssinian  Soyer  blacker  than  the  blackest  historical 
personage  ever  was  painted — the  surging,  elbowing,  clam- 
orous crowd — the  donkeys,  the  camels,  the  street-cries,  the 
chatter,  the  dust,  the  flies,  the  fleas,  and  the  dogs,  all  put 
us  in  mind  of  the  poorer  quarters  of  Cairo.  In  the 
market  it  is  even  worse.  Here  are  hundreds  of  country 
folk  sitting  on  the  ground  behind  their  baskets  of  fruits 
and  vegetables.  Some  have  eggs,  butter,  and  buffalo- 
cream  for  sale,  while  others  sell  sugar-canes,  limes,  cab- 
bages, tobacco,  barley,  dried  lentils,  split  beans,  maize, 
wheat,  and  dura.  The  women  go  to  and  fro  with  bouquets 
of  live  poultry.  The  chickens  scream  ;  the  sellers  rave  ; 
the  buyers  bargain  at  the  top  of  their  voices;  the  dust  flies 
in  clouds;  the  sun  pours  down  floods  of  light  and  heat; 
you  can  scarcely  hear  yourself  speak  ;  and  the  crowd  is  as 
dense  as  that  other  crowd  which  at  this  very  moment,  on 
this  very  Christmas  eve,  is  circulating  among  the  alleys  of 
Leaden  hall  Market. 

The  things  were  very  cheap.  A  hundred  eggs  cost  about 
fourteen  pence  in  English  money ;  chickens  sold  for  five 
pence  each;  pigeons  from  two-pence  to  two-pence-half-penny; 
and  fine  live  geese  for  two  shillings  a  head.  The  turkeys, 
however,  which  were  large  and  excellent,  were  priced  as 
high  as  three-and-sixpence  ;  being  about  half  as  much  as 
one  pays  in  Middle  and  Upper  Egypt  for  a  lamb.  A  good 
sheep  may  be  bought  for  sixteen  shillings  or  a  pound.  The 
M.  B.'s,  who  had  no  dragoman  and  did  their  own  market- 
ing, were  very  busy  here,  laying  in  stores  of  fresh  pro- 
vision, bargaining  fluently  in  Arabic,  and  escorted  by  a 
body-guard  of  sailors. 

A  solitary  dom  palm,  the  northernmost  of  its  race  and 
the  first  specimen  one  meets  with  on  the  Nile,  grows  in  a 
garden  adjoining  this  market-place  ;  but  we  could  scarcely 


80  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

see  it  for  the  blinding-  dust.  Now,  a  dom  palm  is  just  the 
sort  of  tree  that  De  Wint  should  have  painted — odd,  angu- 
lar, with  long  forked  stems,  each  of  which  terminates  in  a 
shock-headed  crown  of  stiff  finger-like  fronds  shading 
heavy  clusters  of  big  shiny  nuts  about  the  size  of  Jerusalem 
artichokes.  It  is,  I  suppose,  the  only  nut  in  the  world  of 
which  one  throws  away  the  kernel  and  eats  the  shell  ;  but 
the  kernel  is  as  hard  as  marble,  while  the  shell  is  fibrous, 
and  tastes  like  stale  gingerbread.  The  dom  palm  must 
bifurcate,  for  bifurcation  is  the  law  of  its  being;  but  1 
could  never  discover  whether  there  was  any  fixed  limit  to 
the  number  of  stems  into  which  it  might  subdivide.  At 
the  same  time,  I  do  not  remember  to  have  seen  any  with 
less  than  two  heads  or  more  than  six. 

Coming  back  through  the  town,  we  were  accosted  by  a 
withered  one-eyed  hag  like  a  reanimated  mummy, 
who  offered  to  tell  our  fortunes.  Before  her  lay  a  dirty 
rag  of  handkerchief  full  of  shells,  pebbles  and  chips  of 
broken  glass  and  pottery.  Squatting,  toad-like,  under  a 
sunny  bit  of  wall,  the  lower  part  of  her  face  closely  veiled, 
her  skinny  arms  covered  with  blue  and  green  glass  brace- 
lets and  her  fingers  with  misshapen  silver  rings,  she  hung 
over  these  treasures,  shook,  mixed  and  interrogated  them 
with  all  the  fervor  of  divination,  and  delivered  a  string  of 
the  prophecies  usually  forthcoming  on  these  occasions. 

"  You  have  a  friend  faraway,  and  your  friend  is  think- 
ing of  you.  There  is  good  fortune  in  store  for  you;  and 
money  coming  to  you;  and  pleasant  news  on  the  way.  You 
will  soon  receive  letters  in  which  there  will  be  something 
to  vex  you,  but  more  to  make  you  glad.  Within  thirty 
days  you  will  unexpectedly  meet  one  whom  you  dearly 
love,"  etc.,  etc.,  etc. 

It  was  just  the  old  familiar  story,  retold  in  Arabic,  with 
out  even  such  variations  as  might  have  been  expected  from 
the  lips  of  an  old  felhiha  born  and   bred    in   a   provincial 
town  of  Middle  Egypt. 

It  may  be  that  ophthalmia  especially  prevailed  in  this  part 
of  the  country,  or  that,  being  brought  unexpectedly  into 
the  midst  of  a  large  crowd,  one  observed  the  people  more 
narrowly,  but  I  certainly  never  saw  so  many  one-eyed 
human  beings  as  that  morning  at  Minieh.  There  must 
have  been  present  in  the  streets  and  market-place  from  ten 
to  twelve  thousand  natives  of  all  ages,  and  I  believe  it  is  no 


BEDRESHA  YN  TO  MINIEH.  81 

exaggeration  to  say  that  at  least  every  twentieth  person,  down 
to  little  toddling  children  of  three  and  four  years  of  age, 
was  blind  of  an  eye.  Not  being  a  particularly  well-favored 
race,  this  defect  added  the  last  touch  of  repulsiveness  to 
faces  already  sullen,  ignorant  and  unfriendly.  A  more 
unprepossessing  population  I  would  never  wish  to  see — the 
men  half  stealthy,  half  insolent;  the  women  bold  and 
fierce  ;  the  children  filthy,  sickly,  stunted  and  stolid. 
Nothing  in  provincial  Egypt  is  so  painful  to  witness  as  the 
neglected  condition  of  very  young  children.  Those  be- 
longing to  even  the  better  class  are  for  the  most  part  shab- 
bily clothed  and  of  more  than  doubtful  cleanliness;  while 
the  offspring  of  the  very  poor  are  simply  incrusted  with 
dirt  and  sores  and  swarming  with  vermin.  It  is  at  first 
hard  to  believe  that  the  parents  of  these  unfortunate  babies 
err,  not  from  cruelty,  but  through  sheer  ignorance  and 
superstition.  Yet  so  it  is;  and  the  time  when  these  people 
can  be  brought  to  comprehend  the  most  elementary  prin- 
ciples of  sanitary  reform  is  yet  far  distant.  To  wash  young 
children  is  injurious  to  health,  therefore  the  mothers  suf- 
fer them  to  fall  into  a  state  of  personal  uncleauliness, 
which  is  alone  enough  to  engender  disease.  To  brush 
away  the  flies  that  beset  their  eyes  is  impious;  hence  oph- 
thalmia and  various  kinds  of  blindness.  I  have  seen  in- 
fants lying  in  their  mothers'  arms  with  six  or  eight  flies  in 
each  eye.  I  have  seen  the  little  helpless  hands  put  down 
reprovingly  if  they  approached  the  seat  of  annoyance.  I 
have  seen  children  of  four  and  five  years  old  with  the  surface 
of  one  or  both  eyes  eaten  away;  and  others  with  a  large, 
fleshy  lump  growing  out  where  the  pupil  had  been  de- 
stroyed. Taking  these  things  into  account,  the  wonder  is, 
after  all,  not  that  three  children  should  die  in  Egypt  out  of 
every  five — not  that  each  twentieth  person  in  certain  dis- 
tricts should  be  blind,  or  partially  blind;  but  that  so  many 
as  forty  per  cent  of  the  whole  infant  population  should 
actually  live  to  grow  up,  and  that  ninety-five  per 
cent  should  enjoy  the  blessing  of  sight.  For  my  own  part 
I  had  not  been  many  weeks  on  the  Nile  before  I  began  sys- 
tematically to  avoid  going  about  the  native  towns  when- 
ever it  was  practicable  to  do  so.  That  I  may  so  have  lost 
an  opportunity  of  now  and  then  seeing  more  of  the  street- 
life  of  the  people  is  very  probable;  but  such  outside 
glimpses  are  of  little  real  value,  and  I  at  all  events  escaped 


82  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUE  NILE. 

the  sight  of  much  poverty,  sickness  and  squalor.  The  con- 
dition of  the  inhabitants  is  not  worse,  perhaps,  in  an 
Egyptian  beled*  than  in  many  an  Irish  village;  but  the 
condition  of  the  children  is  so  distressing  that  one  would 
willingly  go  any  number  of  miles  out  of  the  way  rather 
than  witness  their  suffering,  without  the  power  to  alleviate 
it.f 

If  the  population  in  and  about  Minieh  are  personally 
unattractive,  their  appearance  at  all  events  matches  their 
reputation,  which  is  as  bad  as  that  of  their  neighbors.  Of 
the  manners  and  customs  of  Beni  Suef  we  had  already 
some  experience;  while  public  opinion  charges  Minieh, 
Rhoda  and  most  of  the  towns  and  villages  north  of  Siut 
with  the  like  marauding  propensities.  As  for  the  villages 
at  the  foot  of  Beni  Hassan,  they  have  been  mere  dens  of 
thieves  for  many  generations;  and  though  razed  to  the 
ground  some  years  ago  by  way  of  punishment,  are  now 
rebuilt  and  in  as  bad  odor  as  ever.  It  is  necessary,  there- 
fore, in  all  this  part  of  the  river,  not  only  to  hire  guards 
at  night,  but,  when  the  boat  is  moored,  to  keep  a  sharp 
lookout  against  thieves  by  day.  In  Upper  Egypt  it  is  very 
different.  There  the  natives  are  good-looking,  good- 
natured,  gentle  and  kindly;  and  though  clever  enough  at 
manufacturing  and  selling  modern  antiquities,  are  not 
otherwise  dishonest. 

That  same  evening  (it  was  Christmas  eve),  nearly  two 
hours  earlier  than  their  train  was  supposed  to  be  due,  the 
rest  of  our  party  arrived  at  Minieh. 

*  Beled — village. 

+  Miss  Whately,  whose  evidence  on  this  subject  is  peculiarly  valu- 
able, states  that  the  majority  of  native  children  die  off  at,  or  under, 
two  years  of  age  ("Among  the  Huts,"  p.  29);  while  M.  About,  who 
en]oved  unusual  opportunities  of  inquiring  into  facts  connected  with 
the  population  and  resources  of  the  country,  says  that  the  nation 
loses  three  children  out  of  every  five.  "  L'ignorance  publique, 
I'oubli  des  premiers  elements  d'hygiene,  la  mauvaise  alimentation, 
l'absence  presque  totale  des  soins  medicaux,  tarissent  la  nation  dans 
sa  source.  Un  peuple  qui  perd  regulierement  trios  enfants  sur  cinq 
ne  saurait  croitre  sans  miracle." — "  Le  Fellah,"  p.  165. 


MINIEU  TO  SIUT.  83 


CHAPTER  VI. 

MINIEH     TO     SIUT. 

It   is   Christmas   day.      The   M.    B.'s   are   coming    to 

dinner;  the  cooks  are  up  to  their  eyes  in  entrees;  the  crew 
are  treated  to  a  sheep  in  honor  of  the  occasion;  the  new- 
comers are  unpacking;  and  we  are  all  gradually  settling- 
down  into  our  respective  places.  Now  the  new-comers 
consist  of  four  persons:  a  painter,  a  happy  couple  and  a 
maid.  The  painter  has  already  been  up  the  Nile  three 
times  and  brings  a  fund  of  experience  into  the  council. 
He  knows  all  about  sand-banks  and  winds  and  mooriug- 
places;  is  acquainted  with  most  of  the  native  governors 
and  consuls  along  the  river;  and  is  great  on  the  subject  of 
what  to  eat,  drink  and  avoid.  The  stern-cabin  is  given  to 
him  for  a  studio  and  contains  frames,  canvases,  drawing- 
paper  and  easels  enough  to  start  a  provincial  school  of  art. 
He  is  going  to  paint  a  big  picture  at  Aboo-Simbel.  The 
happy  couple  it  is  unnecessary  to  say  are  on  their  wedding 
tour.  In  point  of  fact,  they  have  not  yet  been  married  a 
month.  The  bridegroom  is  what  the  world  chooses  to  call 
an  idle  man;  that  is  to  say,  he  has  scholarship,  delicate 
health  and  leisure.  The  bride,  for  convenience,  shall  be 
called  the  little  lady.  Of  people  who  are  struggling 
through  that  helpless  phase  of  human  life  called  the  honey- 
moon, it  is  not  fair  to  say  more  than  that  they  are  both 
young  enough  to  make  the  situation  interesting. 

Meanwhile  the  deck  must  be  cleared  of  the  new  luggage 
that  has  come  on  board  and  the  day  passes  in  a  confusion 
of  unpacking,  arranging  and  putting  away.  Such  running 
to  and  fro  as  there  is  down  below;  such  turning-out  of 
boxes  and  knocking-up  of  temporary  shelves;  such  talking, 
and  laughing,  and  hammering  !  Nor  is  the  bustle  con- 
fined to  dowus-tairs.  Talhamy  and  the  waiters  are  just  as 
busy  above,  adorning  the  upper  deck  with  palm  branches 
and  hanging  the  boat  all  round  with  rows  of  colored  lau- 


84  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUE  NILE. 

terns.  One  can  hardly  believe,  however,  that  it  is  Christ- 
mas day — that  there  are  fires  blazing  at  home  in  every 
room;  that  the  church  field,  perhaps,  is  white  with  snow; 
and  that  familiar  bells  are  ringing  merrily  across  the  frosty 
air.  Here  at  midday  it  is  already  too  hot  on  deck  without 
the  awning,  and  when  we  moor  toward  sunset  near  a  river- 
side village  in  a  grove  of  palms,  the  cooler  air  of  evening 
is  delicious. 

There  is  novelty  in  even  such  a  commonplace  matter  as 
dining  out,  on  the  Nile.  You  go  and  return  in  your  fe- 
lucca, as  if  it  were  a  carriage;  and  your  entertainers  sum- 
mon you  by  firing  a  dinner  gun,  instead  of  sounding  a 
gong.  Wise  people  who  respect  the  feelings  of  their  cooks 
fire  a  dressing  gun  as  well;  for  watches  soon  differ  in  a 
hopeless  way  for  want  of  the  church  clock  to  set  them  by, 
and  it  is  always  possible  that  host  and  guest  may  be  an 
hour  or  two  apart  in  their  reckoning. 

The  customary  guns  having  therefore  been  fired  and 
the  party  assembled,  we  sat  down  to  one  of  cook  Beda- 
wee's  prodigious  banquets.  Not,  however,  till  the  plum- 
pudding,  blazing  demoniacally,  appeared  upon  the  scene, 
did  any  of  us  succeed  in  believing  that  it  was  really  Christ- 
mas day. 

Nothing  could  be  prettier  or  gayer  than  the  spectacle 
that  awaited  us  when  we  rose  from  table.  A  hundred  and 
fifty  colored  lanters  outlined  the  boat  from  end  to  end, 
sparkled  up  the  masts,  and  cast  broken  reflections  in  the 
moving  current.  The  upper-deck, hung  with  flags  and  partly 
closed  in  with  awnings,  looked  like  a  bower  of  palms.  The 
stars  and  the  crescent  moon  shone  overhead.  Dim  outlines 
of  trees  and  headlands,  and  a  vague  perspective  of  gleam- 
ing river,  were  visible  in  the  distance;  while  a  light  gleamed 
now  and  then  in  the  direction  of  the  village,  or  a  dusky 
figure  flitted  along  the  bank. 

Meanwhile,  there  was  a  sound  of  revelry  by  night;  for 
our  sailors  had  invited  the  Bagstones'  crew  to  unlimited 
coffee  and  tobacco,  and  had  quite  a  large  party  on  the  lower 
deck.  They  drummed,  they  sang,  they  danced,  they 
dressed  up,  improvised  a  comic  scene,  and  kept  their  audi- 
ence in  a  roar.  Reis  Hassan  did  the  honors.  George, 
Talhamy  and  the  maids  sat  apart  at  the  second  table  and 
sipped  their  coffee  genteelly.  We  looked  on  and  applauded. 
At  ten  o'clock  a  pan  of   magnesium  powder  was   burned, 


MINIEII  TO  8IUT.  85 

and  our  fantasia  ended  with  a  blaze  of  light,  like  a  pan- 
tomime. 

In  Egypt,  by  the  way,  any  entertainment  which  is  en- 
livened by  music,  dancing,  or  fire-works  is  called  a  fan- 
tasia. 

And  now,  sometimes  sailing,  sometimes  tracking,  some- 
times punting,  we  go  on  day  by  day,  making  what  speed 
we  can.  Things  do  not,  of  course,  always  fall  out  exactly 
as  one  would  have  them.  The  wind  too  often  fails  when 
we  most  need  it,  and  gets  up  when  there  is  something  to 
be  seen  on  shore.  Thus,  after  a  whole  morning  of  track- 
ing, we  reach  Beni  Hassan  at  the  moment  when  a  good 
breeze  has  suddenly  filled  our  sails  for  the  first  time  in 
forty-eight  hours;  and  so,  yielding  to  counsels  which  we 
afterward  deplored,  we  pass  on  with  many  a  longing  look 
at  the  terraced  doorways  pierced  along  the  cliffs.  At 
Rhoda,  in  the  same  way,  we  touch  for  only  a  few  minutes 
to  post  and  inquire  for  letters,  and  put  off  till  our  return 
the  inland  excursion  to  Dayr  el  Nakhl,  where  is  to  be 
seen  the  famous  painting  of  the  Colossus  on  the  Sledge. 
But  sights  deferred  are  fated  sometimes  to  remain  unseen, 
as  we  found  by  and  by  to  our  exceeding  loss  and  regret. 

Meanwhile,  the  skies  are  always  cloudless,  the  days 
warm,  the  evenings  exquisite.  We  of  course  live  very 
much  in  the  open  air.  When  there  is  no  wind,  we  land 
and  take  long  walks  by  the  river  side.  When  on  board, 
we  sketch,  write  letters,  read  Champollion,  Bunsen,  and 
Sir  Gardner  Wilkinson:  and  work  hard  at  Egyptian  dy- 
nasties. The  sparrows  and  water-wagtails  perch  familiarly 
on  the  awnings  and  hop  about  the  deck;  the  cocks  and 
hens  chatter,  the  geese  cackle,  the  turkeys  gobble  in  their 
coops  close  by;  and  our  sacrificial  sheep,  leading  a  solitary 
life  in  the  felucca,  conies  baaing  in  the  rear.  Sometimes 
we  have  as  many  as  a  hundred  chickens  on  board  (to  say 
nothing  of  pigeons  and  rabbits)  and  two  or  even  three 
sheep  in  the  felucca.  The  poultry-yard  is  railed  off,  how- 
ever, at  the  extreme  end  of  the  stern,  so  that  the  creatures 
are  well  away  from  the  drawing-room;  and  when  we  moor 
at  a  suitable  place,  they  are  let  out  for  a  few  hours  to  peck 

about  the  banks  and  enjoy  their  liberty.   L and  the  little 

lady  feed  these  hapless  prisoners  with  breakfast-scraps 
every  morning,  to  the  profound  amusement  of  the  steers- 
man, who,  unable  to  conceive  any  other  motive,  imagines 
they  are  fatting  them  for  the  table. 


86  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Such  is  our  Noah's  ark  life — pleasant,  peaceful  and 
patriarchal.  Even  on  days  when  there  is  little  to  see  and 
nothing  to  do  it  is  never  dull.  Trifling  incidents  which 
have  for  us  the  excitement  of  novelty  are  continually  oc- 
curring. Other  dahabeeyahs,  their  flags  and  occupants,  are 
a  constant  source  of  interest.  Meeting  at  mooring-places 
for  the  night,  we  now  and  then  exchange  visits.  Passing 
each  other  by  day  we  dip  ensigns,  fire  salutes,  and  punc- 
tiliously observe  the  laws  of  maritime  etiquette.  Some- 
times a  Cook's  excursion  steamer  hurries  by  crowded  with 
tourists;  or  a  government  tug  towing  three  or  four  great 
barges  closely  packed  with  wretched-looking,  half-naked 
fellaheen  bound  for  forced  labor  on  some  new  railway  or 
canal.  Occasionally  we  pass  a  dahabeeyah  sticking  fast 
upon  a  sand-bank;  and  sometimes  we  stick  on  one  ourselves. 
Then  the  men  fly  to  their  punting  poles  or  jump  into  the 
river  like  water-dogs,  and,  grunting  in  melancholy  cadence, 
shove  the  boat  off  with  their  shoulders. 

The  birds,  too,  are  new,  and  we  are  always  looking  out 
for  them.  Perhaps  we  see  a  top-heavy  pelican  balancing 
his  huge  yellow  bill  over  the  edge  of  the  stream  and  fishing 
for  his  dinner — or  a  flight  of  wild  geese  trailing  across  the 
sky  toward  sunset — or  a  select  society  of  vultures  perched 
all  in  a  row  upon  a  ledge  of  rock  and  solemn  as  the  bench 
of  bishops.  Then  there  are  the  herons  who  stand  on  one 
leg  and  doze  in  the  sun;  the  strutting  hoopoes  with  their 
legendary  top-knots;  the  blue  and  green  bee-eaters  hover- 
ing over  the  uncut  dura.  The  pied  kingfisher,  black  and 
white  like  a  magpie,  sits  fearlessly  under  the  bank  and 
never  stirs,  though  the  tow-rope  swings  close  above  his 
head  and  the  dahabeeyah  glides  within  a  few  feet  of  the 
shore.  The  paddy-birds  whiten  the  sand-banks  by  hun- 
dreds and  rise  in  a  cloud  at  our  approach.  The  sacred 
hawk,  circling  overhead,  utters  the  same  sweet,  piercing, 
melancholy  note  that  the  Pharaohs  listened  to  of  old. 

The  scenery  is  for  the  most  part  of  the  ordinary  Nile 
pattern;  and  for  many  a  mile  we  see  the  same  things  over 
and  over  again — the  level  bank  shelving  down  steeply  to 
the  river;  the  strip  of  cultivated  soil,  green  with  maize  or 
tawny  with  dura;  the  frequent  mud-village  and  palm-grove; 
the  deserted  sugar  factory  with  its  ungainly  chimney  and 
shattered  windows;  the  water-wheel  slowly  revolving  with 
its   necklace  of  pots;  the  shaduf  worked   by  two    brown 


MINIE1I  TO  SIUT.  87 

athletes;  the  file  of  laden  camels;  the  desert,  all  sand-hills 
and  sand-plains,  with  its  background  of  mountains;  the 
long  reach  and  the  gleaming  sail  ahead.  Sometimes,  how- 
ever, as  at  Kom  Ah  mar,  we  skirt  the  ancient  brick  mounds 
of  some  forgotten  city,  with  fragments  of  arched  founda- 
tions, and  even  of  walls  and  doorways,  reaching  down  to 
the  water's  edge;  or,  sailing  close  under  ranges  of  huge 
perpendicular  cliffs,  as  at  Gebel  Abufayda,  startle  the  cor- 
morants from  their  haunts,  and  peer  as  we  pass  into  the 
dim  recesses  of  many  a  rock-cut  tomb  excavated  just  above 
the  level  of  the  inundation. 

This  Gebel  Abufayda  has  a  bad  name  for  sudden  winds; 
especially  at  the  beginning  and  end  of  the  range,  where 
the  Nile  bends  abruptly  and  the  valley  opens  out  at  right 
angles  to  the  river.  It  is  fine  to  see  Rei's  Hassan,  as  we 
approach  one  of  the  worst  of  these  bad  bits — a  point  where 
two  steep  ravines  divided  by  a  bold  headland  command  the 
passage  like  a  pair  of  grim  cannon,  and  rake  it  with  blasts 
from  the  northeastern  desert.  Here  the  current,  flowing 
deep  and  strong,  is  met  by  the  wind  and  runs  high  in 
crested  waves.  Our  little  captain,  kicking  off  his  shoes, 
himself  springs  up  the  rigging  and  there  stands  silent  and 
watchful.  The  sailors,  ready  to  shift  our  mainsail  at  the 
word  of  command,  cling  some  to  the  shoghool*  and  some 
to  the  end  of  the  yard  ;  the  boat  tears  on  before  the  wind  ; 
the  great  bluff  looms  up  darker  and  nearer.  Then  comes 
a  breathless  moment.  Then  a  sharp,  sudden  word  from 
the  little  man  in  the  main  rigging  ;  a  yell  and  a  whoop 
from  the  sailors;  a  slow,  heavy  lurch  of  the  flapping  sail;  and 
the  corner  is  turned  in  safety. 

The  cliffs  are  very  fine  ;  much  loftier  and  less  uniform 
than  at  Gebel  et  Tayr  ;  rent  into  strange  forms,  as  of 
sphinxes,  cheesewrings,  towers,  and  bastions ;  honey- 
combed with  long  ranges  of  rock-cut  tombs  ;  and  under- 
mined by  water-washed  caverns  in  which  lurk  a  few  linger- 
ing crocodiles.  If  at  Gebel  et  Tayr  the  rock  is  worn  into 
semblances  of  arabesque  ornamentation,  here  it  looks  as  if 
inscribed  all  over  with  mysterious  records  in  characters 
not  unlike  the  Hebrew.  Records  they  are,  too,  of  pre- 
historic days  —  chronicles  of  his  own  deeds  carved  by  the 
great  god  Nile  himself,  the  Hapimu  of  ancient  time — but 

*Arabic — shoghool :  a  rope  by  which  the  mainsail  is  regulated. 


88  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  language  in  which  they  are  written  has  never  been 
spoken  by  man. 

As  for  the  rock-cut  tombs  of  Gebel  Abufayda,  they  must 
number  many  hundreds.  For  nearly  twelve  miles  the 
range  runs  parallel  to  the  river,  and  throughout  that 
distance  the  face  of  the  cliffs  is  pierced  with  innumerable 
doorways.  Some  are  small  and  square,  twenty  or  thirty 
together,  like  rows  of  port-holes.  Others  are  isolated. 
Some  are  cut  so  high  up  that  they  must  have  been 
approached  from  above;  others  again  come  close  upon  the 
level  of  the  river.  Some  of  the  doorways  are  faced  to  rep- 
resent jambs  and  architraves  ;  some,  excavated  laterally, 
appear  to  consist  of  a  series  of  chambers,  and  are  lit  from 
without  by  small  windows  cut  in  the  rock.  One  is 
approached  by  a  flight  of  rough  steps  leading  up  from  the 
water's  edge;  and  another,  hewn  high  in  the  face  of  the 
cliff,  just  within  the  mouth  of  a  little  ravine,  shows  a 
simple  but  imposing  facade  supported  by  four  detached 
pillars.  No  modern  travelers  seem  to  visit  these  tombs  ; 
while  those  of  the  old  school,  as  Wilkinson,  Champollion, 
etc.,  dismiss  them  with  a  few  observations.  Yet,  with  the 
single  exception  of  the  mountains  behind  Thebes,  there  is 
not,  I  believe,  any  one  spot  in  Egypt  which  contains  such 
a  multitude  of  sepulchral  excavations.  Many  look,  indeed, 
as  if  they  might  belong  to  the  same  interesting  and  early 
epoch  as  those  of  Beni  Hassan. 

I  may  here  mention  that  about  half-way,  or  rather  less 
than  half-way,  along  the  whole  length  of  the  range  I 
observed  two  large  hieroglyphed  stelaa  incised  upon  the 
face  of  a  projecting  mass  of  boldly  rounded  cliff  at  a 
height  of  perhaps  a  hundred  and  fifty  feet  above  the  river. 
These  stelae,  apparently  royal  ovals,  and  sculptured  as 
usual  side  by  side,  may  have  measured  from  twelve  to 
fifteen  feet  in  height ;  but  in  the  absence  of  any  near 
object  by  which  to  scale  them,  I  could  form  but  a  rough 
guess  as  to  their  actual  dimensions.  The  boat  was  just 
then  going  so  fast  that  to  sketch  or  take  notes  of  the 
hieroglyphs  was  impossible.  Before  I  could  adjust  my 
glass  they  were  already  in  the  rear  ;  and  by  the  time  I  had 
called  the  rest  of  the  party  together  they  were  no  longer 
distinguishable. 

Coming  back  several  months  later,  I  looked  for  them 
again,  but  without  success;  for  the  intense  midday  sun  was 


MINIEI1  TO  S1UT.  89 

then  pouring  full  upon  the  rocks,  to  the  absolute  oblitera- 
tion of  everything  like  shallow  detail.  While  watching 
vainly,  however,  for  the  stela?,  I  was  compensated  by  the 
unexpected  sight  of  a  colossal  bas-relief  high  up  on  the 
northward  face  of  a  cliff  standing,  so  to  say,  at  the  corner 
of  one  of  those  little  recesses  or  culs-de-sac  which  here  and 
there  break  the  uniformity  of  the  range.  The  sculptural 
relief  of  this  large  subject  was  apparently  very  low  ;  but, 
owing  to  the  angle  at  which  it  met  the  light,  one  figure, 
which  could  not  have  measured  less  than  eighteen  or 
twenty  feet  in  height,  was  distinctly  visible.  I  imme- 
diately drew  L — — 's  attention  to  the  spot;  and  she  not  only 
discerned  the  figure  without  the  help  of  a  glass,  but 
believed  like  myself  that  she  could  see  traces  of  a  second. 

As  neither  the  stela?  nor  the  bas-relief  would  seem  to 
have  been  observed  by  previous  travelers,  I  may  add  for  the 
guidance  of  others  that  the  round  and  tower-like  rock 
upon  which  the  former  are  sculptured  lies  about  a  mile  to 
the  southward  of  the  sheik's  tomb  and  palm-tree  (a 
strikingly  picturesque  bit  which  no  one  can  fail  to  notice), 
and  a  little  beyond  some  very  large  excavations  near  the 
water's  edge;  while  the  bas-relief  is  to  be  found  at  a  short 
distance  below  the  Coptic  convent  and  cemetery. 

Having  for  nearly  twelve  miles  skirted  the  base  of  Gebel 
Abufayda  —  by  far  the  finest  panoramic  stretch  of  rock 
scenery  on  this  side  of  the  second  cataract — the  Nile  takes 
an  abrupt  bend  to  the  eastward,  and  thence  flows  through 
many  miles  of  cultivated  flat.  One  coming  to  this  sudden 
elbow  the  wind,  which  had  hitherto  been  carrying  us  along 
at  a  pace  but  little  inferior  to  that  of  a  steamer,  now  struck  us 
full  on  the  beam  and  drove  the  boat  to  shore  with  such 
violence  that  all  the  steersman  could  do  was  just  to  run 
the  Philas's  nose  into  the  bank  and  steer  clear  of  some  ten 
or  twelve  native  cangias  that  had  been  driven  in  before  us. 
The  Bagstones  rushed  in  next;  and  presently  a  large  iron- 
built  dahabeeyah,  having  come  gallantly  along  under  the 
cliffs  with  all  sail  set,  was  seen  to  make  a  vain  struggle  at 
the  fatal  corner,  and  then  plunge  headlong  at  the  bank, 
like  King  Agib's  ship  upon  the  Loadstone  Mountain. 

Imprisoned  here  all  the  afternoon,  we  exchanged  visits 
of  condolence  with  our  neighbors  in  misfortune;  had  our 
ears  nearly  cut  to  pieces  by  the  driving  sand;  and  failed 
signally  in  the  endeavor  to  take  a  walk  onshore.     Still  the 


90  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

fury  of  the  storm  went  on  increasing.  The  wind  howled; 
the  river  raced  in  turbid  waves;  the  sand  drove  in  clouds; 
and  the  face  of  the  sky  was  darkened  as  if  by  a  London 
fog.  Meanwhile,  one  boat  after  another  was  hurled  to 
shore,  and  before  nightfall  we  numbered  a  fleet  of  some 
twenty  odd  craft,  native  and  foreign. 

It  took  the  united  strength  of  both  crews  all  next  day  to 
•warp  the  Philas  and  Bagstones  across  the  river  by  means 
of  a  rope  and  an  anchor;  an  expedient  that  deserves 
special  mention  not  for  its  amazing  novelty  or  ingenuity, 
but  because  our  men  declared  it  to  be  impracticable.  Their 
fathers,  they  said,  had  never  done  it.  Their  fathers' 
fathers  had  never  done  it.  Therefore  it  was  impossible. 
Being  impossible,  why  should  they  attempt  it  ? 

They  did  attempt  it,  however,  and,  much  to  their  aston- 
ishment, they  succeeded. 

It  was,  I  think,  toward  the  afternoon  of  this  second 
day,  when,  strolling  by  the  margin  of  the  river,  that  we 
first  made  the  acquaintance  of  that  renowned  insect,  the 
Egyptian  beetle.  He  was  a  very  fine  specimen  of  his  race, 
nearly  half  an  inch  long  in  the  back,  as  black  and  shiny  as 
a  scarab  cut  in  jet,  and  busily  engaged  in  the  preparation 
of  a  large  rissole  of  mud,  which  he  presently  began  labo- 
riously propelling  up  the  bank.  We  stood  and  watched 
him  for  some  time,  half  in  admiration,  half  in  pity.  His 
rissole  was  at  least  four  times  bigger  than  himself,  and  to 
roll  it  up  that  steep  incline  to  a  point  beyond  the  level  of 
next  summer's  inundation  was  a  labor  of  Hercules  for  so 
small  a  creature.  One  longed  to  play  the  part  of  the  Dens 
ex  machina  and  carry  it  up  the  bank  for  him;  but  that 
would  have  been  a  denouement  beyond  his  power  of  ap- 
preciation. 

We  all  know  the  old  story  of  how  this  beetle  lays  its 
eggs  by  the  river's  brink;  incloses  them  in  a  ball  of  moist 
clay;  rolls  the  ball  to  a  safe  place  on  the  edge  of  the  desert; 
buries  it  in  the  sand;  and  when  his  time  comes,  dies  con- 
tent, having  provided  for  the  safety  of  his  successors. 
Hence  his  mythic  fame;  hence  all  the  quaint  symbolism 
that  by  degrees  attached  itself  to  his  little  person,  and 
ended  by  investing  him  with  a  special  sacredness  which 
has  often  been  mistaken  for  actual  worship.  Standing  by 
thus,  watching  the  movements  of  the  creature,  its  untiring 
energy,  its  extraordinary  muscular  strength,  its  business- 


MIN1EII  TO  srUT.  91 

like  devotion  to  the  matter  in  hand,  one  sees  how  subtle  a 
lesson  the  old  Egyptian  moralists  had  presented  to  them 
for  contemplatation,  and  with  how  fine  a  combination  of 
wisdom  and  poetry  they  regarded  this  little  black  scarab 
not  only  as  an  emblem  of  the  creative  and  preserving 
power,  but  perhaps  also  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul. 
As  a  type,  no  insect  has  ever  had  so  much  greatness  thrust 
upon  him.  He  became  a  hieroglyph,  and  stood  for  a  word 
signifying  both  to  be  and  to  transform.  His  portrait  was 
multiplied  a  million-fold;  sculptured  over  the  portals  of 
temples;  fitted  to  the  shoulders  of  a  god;  engraved  on 
gems;  molded  in  pottery;  painted  on  sarcophagi  and  the  walls 
of  tombs;  worn  by  the  living  and  buried  with  the  dead. 

Every  traveler  on  the  Nile  brings  away  a  handful  of  the 
smaller  scarabs,  genuine  or  otherwise.  Some  may  not  partic- 
ularly care  to  possess  them;  yet  none  can  help  buying  them, 
if  only  because  other  people  do  so,  or  to  get  rid  of  a  trouble- 
some dealer,  or  to  give  to  friends  at  home.  I  doubt,  how- 
ever, if  even  the  most  enthusiastic  scarab -fanciers  really 
feel  in  all  its  force  the  symbolism  attaching  to  these  little 
gems,  or  appreciate  the  exquisite  naturalness  of  their  exe- 
cution, till  they  have  seen  the  living  beetle  at  its  work. 

In  Nubia,  where  the  strip  of  cultivable  land  is  generally 
but  a  few  feet  in  breadth,  the  scarab's  task  is  compara- 
tively light  and  the  breed  multiplies  freely.  But  in 
Egypt  he  has  often  a  wide  plain  to  traverse  with  his  burden, 
and  is  therefore  scarce  in  proportion  to  the  difficulty  with 
which  he  maintains  the  struggle  for  existence.  The  scarab 
race  in  Egypt  would  seem  indeed  to  have  diminished  very 
considerably  since  the  days  of  the  Pharaohs,  and  the  time 
is  not  perhaps  far  distant  when  the  naturalist  will  look  in 
vain  for  specimens  on  this  side  of  the  first  cataract.  As 
far  as  my  own  experience  goes,  I  can  only  say  that  I  saw 
scores  of  these  beetles  during  the  Nubian  part  of  the 
journey;  but  that  to  the  best  of  my  recollection  this  was 
the  only  occasion  upon  which  I  observed  one  in  Egypt. 

The  Nile  makes  four  or  five  more  great  bends  between 
Gebel  Abufayda  and  Siut;  passing  Manafalut  by  the  way, 
which  town  lies  some  distance  back  from  the  shore.  All 
things  taken  into  consideration — the  fitful  wind  that  came 
and  went  continually;  the  tremendous  zigzags  of  the  river; 
the  dead  calm  which  befell  us  when  only  eight  miles 
from  Siut;  and  the  long  day  of  tracking  that  followed, 


92  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

Avith  the  town  in  sight  the  whole  way — we  thought  our- 
selves fortunate  to  get  in  hy  the  evening  of  the  third  day 
after  the  storm.  These  last  eight  miles  are,  however,  for 
open,  placid  beauty,  as  lovely  in  their  way  as  anything  north 
of  Thebes.  The  valley  is  here  very  wide  and  fertile ;  the 
town,  with  its  multitudinous  minarets,  appears  first  on  one 
side  and  then  on  the  other,  according  to  the  windings  of 
the  river;  the  distant  pinky  mountains  look  almost  as 
transparent  as  the  air  or  the  sunshine;  while  the  banks 
unfold  an  endless  succession  of  charming  little  subjects, 
every  one  of  which  looks  as  if  it  asked  to  be  sketched  as 
we  pass.  A  shadiif  and  a  clump  of  palms — a  triad  of 
shaggy  black  buffaloes,  up  to  their  shoulders  in  the  river, 
and  dozing  as  they  stand — a  wide-spreading  sycamore  fig, 
in  the  shade  of  which  lie  a  man  and  camel  asleep — a  fallen 
palm  uprooted  by  the  last  inundation,  with  its  fibrous 
roots  yet  clinging  to  the  bank  and  its  crest  in  the  water — a 
group  of  sheiks'  tombs  with  glistening  white  cupolas 
relieved  against  a  background  of  dark  foliage — an  old  dis- 
used water-wheel  lying  up  sidewise  against  the  bank  like  a 
huge  teetotom,  and  garlanded  with  wild  tendrils  of  a  gourd — 
such  are  a  few  out  of  many  bits  by  the  way,  which,  if  they 
offer  nothing  very  new,  at  all  events  present  the  old 
material  under  fresh  aspects,  and  in  combination  with  a 
distance  of  such  ethereal  light  and  shade,  and  such  opal- 
escent tenderness  of  tone,  that  it  looks  more  like  an  air- 
drawn  mirage  than  a  piece  of  the  world  we  live  in. 

Like  a  mirage,  too,  that  fairy  town  of  Siut  seemed 
always  to  hover  at  the  same  unattainable  distance  and  after 
hours  of  tracking  to  be  no  nearer  than  at  first.  Some- 
times, indeed,  following  the  long  reaches  of  the  river,  we 
appeared  to  be  leaving  it  behind;  and  although,  as  I  have 
said,  we  had  eight  miles  of  hard  work  to  get  to  it,  I  doubt 
whether  it  was  ever  more  than  three  miles  distant  as  the 
bird  flies.  It  wras  late  in  the  afternoon,  however,  when  we 
turned  the  last  corner;  and  the  sun  was  already  setting 
when  the  boat  reached  the  village  of  Hamra,  which  is  the 
mooring-place  for  Siut — Siut  itself,  with  clustered  cupolas 
and  arrowy  minarets,  lying  back  in  the  plain  at  the  foot 
of  a  great  mountain  pierced  with  tombs. 

Now,  it  was  in  the  bond  that  our  crew  were  to  be  allowed 
twenty-four  hours  for  making  and  baking  bread  at  Siut, 
Esneh  and  Assuan.     No  sooner,  therefore,  was  the  daha- 


MINIEII  TO  SIUT.  93 

beeyah  moored  than  Reis  Hassan  and  the  steersman  started 
away  at  full  speed  on  two  little  donkeys  to  buy  flour;  while 
Mehemet  Ali,  one  of  our  most  active  and  intelligent 
sailors,  rushed  off  to  hire  the  oven.  For  here,  as  at  Esneh 
and  Assuan,  there  are  large  flour  stores  and  public  bake- 
houses for  the  use  of  sailors  on  the  river,  who  make  and 
bake  their  bread  in  large  lots;  cut  it  into  slices  ;  dry  it  in 
the  sun;  and  preserve  it  in  the  form  of  rusks  for  months 
together.  Thus  prepared,  it  takes  the  place  of  ship-biscuit; 
and  it  is  so  far  superior  to  ship-biscuit  that  it  neither 
molds  nor  breeds  the  maggot,  but  remains  good  and 
wholesome  to  the  last  crumb. 

Siut,  frequently  written  Asyoot,  is  the  capital  of  Middle 
Egypt  and  has  the  best  bazaars  of  any  town  up  the  Nile. 
Its  red  and  black  pottery  is  famous  throughout  the  coun- 
try; and  its  pipe-bowls  (supposed  to  be  the  best  in  the 
east),  being  largely  exported  to  Cairo,  find  their  way  not 
only  to  all  parts  of  the  Levant,  but  to  every  Algerine  and 
Japanese  shop  in  London  and  Paris.  No  lover  of  peasant 
pottery  will  yet  have  forgotten  the  Egyptian  stalls  in  the 
ceramic  gallery  of  the  international  exhibition  of  1871. 
All  those  quaint  red  vases  and  lustrous  black  tazzas,  all 
those  exquisite  little  coffee  services,  those  crocodile  paper- 
weights, those  barrel-shaped  and  bird-shaped  bottles  came 
from  Siut.  There  is  a  whole  street  of  such  pottery  here  in 
the  town.  Your  dahabeeyah  is  scarcely  made  fast  before 
a  dealer  comes  on  board  and  ranges  his  brittle  wares  along 
the  deck.  Others  display  their  goods  upon  the  bank. 
But  the  best  things  are  only  to  be  had  in  the  bazaars;  and 
not  even  in  Cairo  is  it  possible  to  find  Siut  ware  so  choice 
in  color,  form  and  design  as  that  which  the  two  or  three 
best  dealers  bring  out,  wrapped  in  soft  paper,  when  a 
European  customer  appears  in  the  market. 

Besides  the  street  of  pottery  there  is  a  street  of  red 
shoes;  another  of  native  and  foreign  stuffs;  and  the  usual 
run  of  saddlers'  shops,  kebab  stalls  and  Greek  stores  for 
the  sale  of  everything  in  heaven  or  earth,  from  third-rate 
cognac  to  patent  wax  vestas.  The  houses  are  of  plastered 
mud  or  sun-dried  bricks,  as  at  Minieh.  The  thoroughfares 
are  dusty,  narrow,  unpaved  and  crowded,  as  at  Minieh.  The 
people  are  one-eyed,  dirty  and  unfragrant,  as  at  Minieh.  The 
children's  eyes  are  full  of  flies  and  their  heads  are  covered  with 
sores,  as  at  Minieh.     In  short,  it  is  Minieh  over  again  on  a 


94  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

larger  scale;  differing  only  in  respect  of  its  inhabitants, 
who,  instead  of  being  sullen,  thievish  and  unfriendly,  are 
too  familiar  to  be  pleasant,  and  the  most  unappeasable 
beggars  out  of  Ireland.  So  our  mirage  turns  to  sordid 
reality,  and  Siut,  which  from  afar  off  looked  like  the  capi- 
tal of  Dreamland,  resolves  itself  into  a  big  mud  town,  as 
ugly  and  ordinary  as  its  fellows.  Even  the  minarets,  so 
elegant  from  a  distance,  betray  for  the  most  part  but 
rough  masonry  and  clumsy  ornamentation  when  closely 
looked  into. 

A  lofty  embanked  road  planted  with  fine  sycamore  figs 
leads  from  Hamra  to  Siut ;  and  another  embanked  road, 
leads  from  Siut  to  the  mountain  of  tombs.  Of  the  ancient 
Egyptian  city  no  vestige  remains,  the  modern  town  being 
built  upon  the  mounds  of  the  earlier  settlement;  but  the 
City  of  the  Dead — so  much  of  it,  at  least,  as  was  excavated 
in  the  living  rock — survives,  as  at  Memphis,  to  commem- 
orate the  departed  splendor  of  the  place. 

We  took  donkeys  next  day  to  the  edge  of  the  desert  and 
went  up  to  the  sepulchers  on  foot.  The  mountain,  which 
looked  a  delicate  salmon-pink  when  seen  from  afar,  now 
showed  bleached  and  arid  and  streaked  with  ocherous  yel- 
low. Layer  above  layer,  in  beds  of  strongly  marked  strati- 
fication, it  towered  overhead;  tier  above  tier,  the  tombs 
yawned,  open-mouthed,  along  the  face  of  the  precipice.  I 
picked  up  a  fragment  of  the  rock,  and  found  it  light,  por- 
ous and  full  of  little  cells,  like  pumice.  The  slopes  were 
strewn  with  stones,  as  well  as  witli  fragments  of  mummy, 
shreds  of  mummy-cloth  and  human  bones,  all  whitening 
and  withering  in  the  sun. 

The  first  tomb  we  came  to  was  the  so-called  Stabl  Antar 
— a  magnificent  but  cruelly  mutilated  excavation,  consisting 
of  a  grand  entrance,  a  vaulted  corridor,  a  great  hall,  two 
side  chambers  and  a  sanctuary.  The  ceiling  of  the  cor- 
ridor, now  smoke-blackened  and  defaced,  has  been  richly 
decorated  with  intricate  patterns  in  light  green,  white  and 
buff,  upon  a  ground  of  dark  bluish-green  stucco.  The  wall 
to  the  right  on  entering  is  covered  with  a  long  hieroglyphic 
inscription.  In  the  sanctuary  vague  traces  of  seated  fig- 
ures, male  and  female,  with  lotus  blossoms  in  their  hands, 
are  dimly  visible.  Two  colossal  warriors  incised  in  out- 
line upon  the  leveled  rock — the  one  very  perfect,  the  other 
hacked  almost  out  of  recognition — stand    on   each  side  of 


MINI  EH  TO  S1UT.  95 

the  huge  portal.  A  circular  hole  in  the  threshold  marks 
the  spot  where  the  great  door  once  worked  upon  its  pivot; 
and  a  deep  pit,  now  partially  filled  in  with  rubbish,  leads 
from  the  center  of  the  hall  to  some  long-rifled  vault  deep 
down  in  the  heart  of  the  mountain.  Wilful  destruction 
has  been  at  work  on  every  side.  The  wall-sculptures  have 
been  defaced — the  massive  pillars  that  once  supported  the 
superincumbent  rock  have  been  quarried  away — the  interior 
is  heaped  high  with  debris.  Enough  is  left,  however,  to 
attest  the  antique  stateliness  of  the  tomb;  and  the  hiero- 
glyphic inscription  remains  almost  intact  to  tell  its  age  and 
history. 

This  inscription  (erroneously  entered  in  Murray's  Guide 
as  uncopied,  but  interpreted  by  Brugsch,  who  published 
extracts  from  it  as  far  back  as  1862)  shows  the  excavation 
to  have  been  made  for  one  Hepoukefa  orHaptefa,  nomarch 
of  the  Lycopolite  nome  and  the  chief  priest  of  the  jackal 
god  of  Siut.*  It  is  also  famous  among  scientific  students 
for  certain  passages  which  contain  important  information 
regarding  the  intercalary  days  of  the  Egyptian  calendar. f 
We  observed  that  the  full-length  figures  on  the  jambs  of 
the  doorway  appeared  to  have  been  incised,  filled  in  with 
stucco  and  then  colored.  The  stucco  had  for  the  most 
part  fallen  out,  though  enough  remained  to  show  the  style 
of  the  work.  J 

From  this  tomb  to  the  next  we  crept  by  way  of  a  pas- 
sage tunneled  in  the  mountain,  and  emerged  into  a  spacious, 
quadrangular  grotto,  even  more  dilapidated  than  the  first. 
It  had  been  originally  supported  by  square  pillars  left 
standing  in  the  substance  of  the  rock;  but,  like  the  pillars 
in  the  tomb  of  Hepoukefa,  they  had  been  hewn  away  in 
the  middle  and  looked  like  stalactite  columns  in  process  of 

*  The  known  inscriptions  in  the  tomb  of  Haptefa  have  recently 
been  recopied,  and  another  long  inscription,  not  previously  tran- 
scribed, has  been  copied  and  translated,  by  Mr.  F.  Llewellyn  Griffith, 
acting  for  the  Egypt  exploration  fund.  Mr.  Griffith  has  for  the 
first  time  fixed  the  date  of  this  famous  tomb,  which  was  made  dur- 
ing the  reign  of  Usertesen  I,  of  the  twelth  dynasty.  [Note  to 
second  edition.] 

f  See  "  Recueil  des  Monuments  Egyptiens,"  Brugsch.  Part  I. 
Planche  xi.     Published  1862. 

\  Some  famous  tombs  of  very  early  date,  enriched  with  the  same 
kind  of  inlaid  decoration,  are  to  be  seen  at  Meydum,  near  the  base  of 
Mej'duui  pyramid. 


96  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  KILE. 

formation.  For  the  rest,  two  half-filled  pits,  a  broken 
sarcophagus  and  a  few  painted  hieroglyphs  upon  a  space  of 
stuccoed  wall  were  all  that  remained. 

One  would  have  liked  to  see  the  sepulcher  in  which 
Ampere,  the  brilliant  and  eager  disciple  of  Champollion, 
deciphered  the  ancient  name  of  Siut;  but  since  he  does  not 
specify  the  cartouche  by  which  it  could  be  identified,  one 
might  wander  about  the  mountain  for  a  week  without 
being  able  to  find  it.  Having  first  described  the  Stabl 
An  tar,  he  says:  "  In  another  grotto  I  found  twice  over  the 
name  of  the  city  written  in  hieroglyphic  characters,  Qi-ou-t. 
This  name  forms  part  of  an  inscription  which  also  contains 
an  ancient  royal  cartouche;  so  proving  that  the  present 
name  of  the  city  dates  back  to  Pharaonic  times."* 

Here,  then,  we  trace  a  double  process  of  preservation. 
This  town,  which  in  the  ancient  Egyptian  was  written 
Ssout,  became  Lycopolis  under  the  Greeks;  continued  to 
be  called  Lycopolis  throughout  the  period  of  Roman  rule 
in  Egypt;  reverted  to  its  old  historic  name  under  the 
Copts  of  the  middle  ages,  who  wrote  it  Sioout;  and  sur- 
vives in  the  Asyoot  of  the  Arab  fellah.  Nor  is  this  by  any 
means  a  solitary  instance.  Khemmis  in  the  same  way  be- 
came Panopolis,  reverted  to  the  Coptic  Chmin,  and  to  this 
day  as  Ekhmim  perpetuates  the  legend  of  its  first  founda- 
tion. As  with  these  fragments  of  the  old  tongue,  so  with 
the  race.  Subdued  again  and  again  by  invading  hordes; 
intermixed  for  centuries  together  with  Phoenician,  Persian, 
Greek,  Roman  and  Arab  blood,  it  fuses  these  heterogeneous 
elements  in  one  common  mold,  reverts  persistently  to  the 
early  type  and  remains  Egyptian  to  the  last.  So  strange 
is  the  tyranny  of  natural  forces.  The  sun  and  soil  of 
Egypt  demand  one  special  breed  of  men,  and  will  tolerate 
no  other.  Foreign  residents  cannot  rear  children  in  the 
country.  In  the  Isthmus  of  Suez,  which  is  considered  the 
healthiest  part  of  Egypt,  an  alien  population  of  twenty 
thousand  persons  failed  in  the  course  of  ten  years  to  rear 
one  infant  born  upon  the  soil.  Children  of  an  alien  father 
and  an  Egyptian  mother  will  die  off  in  the  same  way  in 
early  infancy,  unless  brought  up  in  the  simple  native 
fashion.     And  it  is  affirmed  of  the  descendants  of  mixed 

*  "Voyage  en  Egypte  et  en  Nubie,"  by  J.  J.  Ampere.  The  car- 
touche may  perhaps  be  that  of  Rakameri,  mentioned  by  Brugsck; 
"  Histoire  d'Egypte,"  chap,  vi.,  first  edition. 


MINIEH  TO  SIUT.  97 

marriages,  that  after  the  third  generation  the  foreign  blood 
seems  to  be  eliminated,  while  the  traits  of  the  race  are 
restored  to  their  original  purity. 

These  are  but  a  few  instances  of  the  startling  con- 
servatism of  Egypt — a  conservatism  which  interested  me 
particularly,  and  to  which  I  shall  frequently  have  occasion 
to  return. 

Each  nome  or  province  of  ancient  Egypt  had  its  sacred 
animals;  and  Suit  was  called  Lycopolis  by  the  Greeks* 
because  the  wolf  (now  almost  extinct  in  the  land)  was  there 
held  in  the  same  kind  of  reverence  as  the  cat  at  Bubastis, 
the  crocodile  at  Ombos,  and  the  lion  at  Leontopolis. 
Mummy-wolves  are,  or  used  to  be,  found  in  the  smaller 
tombs  about  the  mountain,  as  well  as  mummy-jackals; 
Anubis,  the  jackal-headed  god,  being  the  presiding  deity 
of  the  district.  A  mummied  jackal  from  this  place,  curi- 
ously wrapped  in  striped  bandages,  is  to  be  seen  in  the  first 
Egyptian  room  at  the  British  Museum. 

But  the  view  from  the  mountain  above  Siut  is  finer  than 
its  tombs  and  more  ancient  than  its  mummies.  Seen  from 
within  the  great  doorway  of  the  second  grotto,  it  looks 
like  a  framed  picture.  For  the  foreground,  we  have  a 
dazzling  slope  of  limestone  debris;  in  the  middle  distance, 
a  wide  plain  clothed  with  the  delicious  tender  green  of 
very  yourgcorn;  farther  away  yet,  the  cupolas  and  minarets 
of  Siut  rising  from  the  midst  of  a  belt  of  palm-groves;  be- 
yond these  again,  the  molten  gold  of  the  great  river  glit- 
tering away,  coil  after  coil,  into  the  far  distance;  and  all 
along  the  horizon  the  everlasting  boundary  of  the  desert. 
Large  pools  of  placid  water  left  by  the  last  inundation  lie 
here  and  there,  like  lakes  amid  the  green.  A  group  of 
brown  men  are  wading  yonder  with  their  nets.  A  funeral 
comes  along  the  embanked  road — the  bier  carried  at  a 
rapid  pace  on  men's  shoulders  and  covered  with  a  red 
shawl;  the  women  taking  up  handfuls  of  dust  and  scatter- 
ing it  upon  their  heads  as  they  walk.  We  can  see  the  dust 
flying  and  hear  their  shrill  wail  borne  upon  the  breathless 
air.  The  cemetery  toward  which  they  are  going  lies  round 
to  the  left,  at  the  foot  of  the  mountain — a  wilderness  of 
little  white  cupolas,  with  here  and   there  a  tree.     Broad 

*  The  Greeks  translated  the  sacred  names  of  Egyptian  places;  the 
Copts  adopted  the  civil  names. 


98  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

spaces  of  shade  sleep  under  the  spreading  sycamores  by  the 
road  side;  a  hawk  cries  overhead;  and  Siut,  bathed  in  the 
splendor  of  the  morning  sun,  looks  as  fairy-like  as  ever. 

Lepsius  is  reported  to  have  said  that  the  view  from  this 
hillside  was  the  finest  in  Egypt.  But  Egypt  is  a  long 
country  and  questions  of  precedence  are  delicate  matters  to 
deal  with.  It  is,  however,  a  very  beautiful  view;  though 
most  travelers  who  know  the  scenery  about  Thebes  and  the 
approach  to  Assuan  would  hesitate,  I  should  fancy,  to  give 
the  preference  to  a  landscape  from  which  the  nearer 
mountains  are  excluded  by  the  position  of  the  spectator. 

The  tombs  here,  as  in  many  other  parts  of  Egypt,  are 
said  to  have  been  largely  appropriated  by  early  Christian 
anchorites  during  the  reigns  of  the  later  Roman  emperors; 
and  to  these  recluses  may  perhaps  be  ascribed  the  legend 
that  makes  Lycopolis  the  abode  of  Joseph  and  Mary  during 
the  years  of  their  sojourn  in  Egypt.  It  is,  of  course,  but  a 
legend  and  wholly  improbable.  If  the  holy  family  ever 
journeyed  into  Egypt  at  all,  which  certain  Biblical  critics 
now  hold  to  be  doubtful,  they  probably  rested  from  their 
wanderings  at  some  town  not  very  far  from  the  eastern 
border — as  Tanis,  or  Pithom,  or  Bubastis.  Siut  would,  at 
all  events,  lie  at  least  two  hundred  and  fifty  miles  to  the 
southward  of  any  point  to  which  they  might  reasonably 
be  supposed  to  have  penetrated. 

Still,  one  would  like  to  believe  a  story  that  laid  the 
scene  of  our  Lord's  childhood  in  the  midst  of  this  beautiful 
and  glowing  Egyptian  pastoral.  With  what  a  profound 
and  touching  interest  it  would  invest  the  place  !  With 
what  different  eyes  we  should  look  down  upon  a  landscape 
which  must  have  been  dear  and  familiar  to  Him  in  all  its 
details  and  which,  from  the  nature  of  the  ground,  must 
have  remained  almost  unchanged  from  His  day  to  ours! 
The  mountain  with  its  tombs,  the  green  corn-flats,  the 
Nile  and  the  desert,  looked  then  as  they  look  now.  It  is 
only  the  Moslem  minarets  that  are  new.  It  is  only  the 
pylons  and  sanctuaries  of  the  ancient  worship  that  have 
passed  away. 


SIUT  TO  DENDERAH.  99 


CHAPTEE  VII. 

SIUT   TO    DEJSTDERAH. 

We  started  from  Suit  with  a  couple  of  tons  of  new 
brown  bread  on  board,  which,  being  cut  into  slices  and 
laid  to  dry  in  the  sun,  was  speedily  converted  into  rusks 
and  stored  away  in  two  huge  lockers  on  the  upper  deck. 
The  sparrows  and  water-wagtails  had  a  good  time  while  the 
drying  went  on;  but  no  one  seemed  to  grudge  the  toll  they 
levied. 

"We  often  had  a  "  big  wind  "  now;  though  it  seldom 
began  to  blow  before  ten  or  eleven  a.m.,  and  generally  fell 
at  sunset.  Now  and  then,  when  it  chanced  to  keep  up, 
and  the  river  was  known  to  be  free  from  shallows,  we  went 
on  sailing  through  the  night;  but  this  seldom  happened, 
and,  when  it  did  happen,  it  made  sleep  impossible — so  that 
nothing  but  the  certainty  of  doing  a  great  many  miles 
between  bedtime  and  breakfast  could  induce  us  to  put  np 
with  it. 

We  had  now  been  long  enough  afloat  to  find  out  that  we 
had  almost  always  one  man  on  the  sick  list,  and  were 
therefore  habitually  short  of  a  hand  for  the  navigation  of 
the  boat.  There  never  were  such  fellows  for  knocking 
themselves  to  pieces  as  our  sailors.  They  were  always 
bruising  their  feet,  wounding  their  hands,  getting  sun- 
strokes, and  whitlows,  and  sprains,  and  disabling  them- 
selves in  some  way.     L ,  with  her  little  medicine  chest 

and  her  roll  of  lint  and  bandages,  soon  had  a  small  but 
steady  practice,  and  might  have  been  seen  about  the  lower 
deck  most  mornings  after  breakfast,  repairing  these 
damaged  Alis  and  Hassans.  It  was  well  for  them  that  we 
carried  "  an  experienced  surgeon,"  for  they  were  entirely 
helpless  and  despondent  when  hurt,  and  ignorant  of  the 
commonest  remedies.  Nor  is  this  helplessness  confined  to 
natives  of  the* sailor  and  fellah  class.  The  provincial  pro- 
prietors and  officials  are  to  the  full  as  ignorant,  not  only  of 


100  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  uses  of  such  simple  things  as  poultices  or  wet  com- 
presses, but  of  the  most  elementary  laws  of  health. 
Doctors  there  are  none  south  of  Cairo;  and  such  is  the 
general  mistrust  of  state  medicine,  that  when,  as  in  the 
case  of  any  widely  spread  epidemic,  a  medical  officer  is 
sent  up  the  river  by  order  of  the  government,  half  the 
people  are  said  to  conceal  their  sick,  while  the  other  half 
reject  the  remedies  prescribed  for  them.  Their  trust  in 
the  skill  of  the  passing  European  is,  on  the  other  hand, 
unbounded.  Appeals  for  advice  and  medicine  were  con- 
stantly being  made  to  us  by  both  rich  and  poor;  and  there 
was  something  very  pathetic  in  the  simple  faith  with  which 
they  accepted  any  little  help  we  were  able   to  give  them. 

Meanwhile  L 's  medical  reputation,  being  confirmed  by 

a  few  simple  cures,  rose  high  among  the  crew.  They  called 
her  the  hakim  sitt  (the  doctor-lady);  obeyed  her  directions 
and  swallowed  her  medicines  as  reverently  as  if  she 
were  the  college  of  surgeons  personified;  and  showed  their 
gratitude  in  all  kinds  of  pretty,  child-like  ways — singing 
her  favorite  Arab  song  as  they  ran  beside  her  donkey — 
searching  for  sculptured  fragments  whenever  there  were 
ruins  to  be  visited — and  constantly  bringing  her  little  gifts 
of  pebbles  and  wild  flowers. 

Above  Siut,  the  picturesqueness  of  the  river  is  confined 
for  the  most  part  to  the  eastern  bank.  We  have  almost 
always  a  near  range  of  mountains  on  the  Arabian  side,  and 
a  more  distant  chain  on  the  Libyan  horizon.  Gebel 
Sheik  el  Ra&ineh  succeeds  to  Gebel  Abufayda,  and  is 
followed  in  close  succession  by  the  cliffs  of  Gow,  of  Gebel 
Sheik  el  Hereedee,  of  Gebel  Ayserat  and  Gebel  Tukh — 
all  alike  rigid  in  strongly  marked  beds  of  level  limestone 
strata;  flat-topped  and  even,  like  lines  of  giant  ramparts; 
and  more  or  less  pierced  with  orifices  which  we  know  to  be 
tombs,  but  which  look  like  loop-holes  from  a  distance. 

Flying  before  the  wind  with  both  sails  set,  we  see  the 
rapid  panorama  unfold  itself  day  after  day,  mile  after  mile, 
hour  after  hour.  Villages,  palm  groves,  rock-cut  sepul- 
chers,  flit  past  and  are  left  behind.  To-day  we  enter  the 
region  of  the  dom  palm.  To-morrow  we  pass  the  map- 
drawn  limit  of  the  crocodile.  The  cliffs  advance,  recede, 
open  away  into  desolate-looking  valleys,  and  show  faint 
traces  of  paths  leading  to  excavated  tombs  on  distant 
heights.     The -headland  that  looked  shadowy  in  the  dis- 


SIUT  TO  DENDERAH.  101 

tance  a  couple  of  hours  ago  is  reached  and  passed.  The 
cargo-boat  on  which  we  have  been  gaining  all  the  morning 
is  outstripped  and  dwindling  in  the  rear.  Now  we  pass  a 
bold  bluff  sheltering  a  sheik's  tomb  and  a  solitary  dom 
palm — now  an  ancient  quarry  from  which  the  stone  has 
been  cut  out  in  smooth  masses,  leaving  great  halls,  and 
corridors,  and  stages  in  the  mountain  side.  At  Gow,*  the 
scene  of  an  insurrection  headed  by  a  crazy  dervish  some  ten 
years  ago,  we  see,  in  place  of  a  large  and  populous  village, 
only  a  tract  of  fertile  corn  ground,  a  few  ruined  huts,  and 
a  group  of  decapitated  palms.  We  are  now  skirting  Ge- 
bel  Sheik  el  Hereedee;  here  bordered  by  a  rich  margin  of 
cultivated  flat;  yonder  leaving  space  for  scarce  a  strip  of 
roadway  between  the  precipice  and  the  river.  Then  comes 
Raaineh,  a  large  village  of  square  mud  towers,  lofty  and 
battlemented,  with  string-courses  of  pots  for  the  pigeons 
— and  later  on,  Girgeh,  once  the  capital  town  of  Middle 
Egypt,  where  we  put  in  for  half  an  hour  to  post  and  in- 
quire for  letters.  Here  the  Nile  is  fast  eating  away  the 
bank  and  carrying  the  town  by  storm.  A  ruined  mosque 
with  pointed  arches,  roofless  cloisters,  and  a  leaning  column 
that  must  surely  have  come  to  the  ground  by  this  time, 
stands  just  above  the  landing-place.  A  hundred  years  ago 
it  lay  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from  the  river;  ten  years  ago  it 
was  yet  perfect ;  after  a  few  more  inundations  it  will  be 
swept  away.  Till  that  time  comes,  however,  it  helps  to 
make  Girgeh  one  of  the  most  picturesque  towns  in  Egypt. 
At  Farshut  we  see  the  sugar-works  in  active  operation — 
smoke  pouring  from  the  tall  chimneys;  steam  issuing  from 

*  According  to  the  account  given  in  her  letters  by  Lady  Duff  Gor- 
don, this  dervish,  who  had  acquired  a  reputation  for  unusal  sanctity  by 
repeating  the  name  of  Allah  three  thousand  times  every  night  for  three 
years,  believed  that  he  had  by  these  means  rendered  himself  invul- 
nerable; and  so,  proclaiming  himself  the  appointed  slayer  of  Anti- 
christ, he  stirred  up  a  revolt  among  the  villages  bordering  Gebel 
Sheik  Hereedee,  instigated  an  attack  on  an  English  dahabeeyah, 
and  brought  down  upon  himself  and  all  that  country-side  the  swift 
and  summary  vengeance  of  the  government.  Steamers  with  troops 
commanded  by  Fadl  Pasha  were  dispatched  up  the  river;  rebels  were 
shot;  villages  sacked;  crops  and  cattle  confiscated.  The  women  and 
children  of  the  place  were  then  distributed  among  the  neighboring 
hamlets;  and  Gow,  which  was  as  large  a  village  as  Luxor,  ceased  to 
exist.  The  dervish's  fate  remained  uncertain.  He  was  shot,  accord- 
ing to  some;  and  by  others  it  was  said  that  he  had  escaped  into  the 
desert  under  the  protection  of  a  tribe  of^edouifts1,  *'  "■-"•^ 

/  1 


102  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  traps  in  the  basement;  cargo-boats  unlading  fresh  su- 
gar-cane against  the  bank;  heavily  burdened  Arabs  trans- 
porting it  to -the  factory;  bullock  trucks  laden  with  cane- 
leaf  for  firing.  A  little  higher  up,  at  Sahil  Bajura  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  river,  we  find  the  bank  strewn  for 
full  a  quarter  of  a  mile  with  sugar-cane  en  masse.  Hun- 
dreds of  camels  are  either  arriving  laden  with  it,  or  going 
back  for  more — dozens  of  cargo-boats  are  drawn  up  to  re- 
ceive it — swarms  of  brown  fellaheen  are  stacking  it  on 
board  for  unshipment  again  at  Farslmt.  The  camels 
snort  and  growl;  the  men  shout;  the  overseers,  in  blue- 
fringed  robes  and  white  turbans,  stalk  to  and  fro,  and  keep 
the  work  going.  The  mountains  here  recede  so  far  as  to 
be  almost  out  of  sight,  and  a  plain  rich  in  sugar-cane  and 
date-palms  widens  out  between  them  and  the  river. 

And  now  the  banks  are  lovely  with  an  unwonted  wealth 
of  verdure.  The  young  corn  clothes  the  plain  like  a  car- 
pet, while  the  yellow-tasseled  mimosa,  the  feathery  tama- 
risk, the  doin  and  date  palm,  and  spreading  sycamore-fig, 
border  the  towing-path  like  garden  trees  beside  a  garden 
walk. 

Farther  on  still,  when  all  this  greenery  is  left  behind 
and  the  banks  have  again  become  flat  and  bare,  we  see  to 
our  exceeding  surprise  what  seems  to  be  a  very  large  griz- 
zled ape  perched  on  the  top  of  a  dust-heap  on  the  western 
bank.  The  creature  is  evidently  quite  tame,  and  sits  on  its 
haunches  in  just  that  chilly,  melancholy  posture  that  the 
chimpanzee  is  wont  to  assume  in  his  cage  at  the  Zoological 
Gardens.  Some  six  or  eight  Arabs,  one  of  whom  has  dis- 
mounted from  his  camel  for  the  purpose,  are  standing 
round  and  staring  at  him,  much  as  the  British  public 
stand  and  stare  at  the  specimen  in  the  Begent's  Park. 
Meanwhile  a  strange  excitement  breaks  out  among  our 
crew.  They  crowd  to  the  side;  they  shout;  they  gesticu- 
late; the  captain  salaams;  the  steersman  waves  his  hand; 
all  eyes  are  turned  toward  the  shore. 

"Do  you  see  Sheik  Selim?"  cries  Talhamy,  breath- 
lessly, rushing  up  from  below.  "  There  he  is!  Look  at 
him!     That  is  Sheik  Selim !"_ 

And  so  we  find  out  that  it  is  not  a  monkey  but  a  man — 
and  not  only  a  man,  but  a  saint.  Holiest  of  the  holy, 
dirtiest  of  the  dirty,  white-pated,  white-bearded,  withered, 
bent,  and  knotted  up,  is  the  renowned  Sheik  Selim — he 


8IUT  TO  DENDERAE.  103 

who,  naked  and  unwashed,  has  sat  on  that  same  spot 
every  day  through  summer  heat  and  winter  cold  for  the 
last  fifty  years  ;  never  providing  himself  with  food  or 
water;  never  even  lifting  his  hand  to  his  mouth  ;  depend- 
ing on  charity  not  only  for  his  food  hut  for  his  feeding! 
He  is  not  nice  to  look  at,  even  hy  this  dim  light,  and  at 
this  distance;  hut  the  sailors  think  him  quite  beautiful,  and 
call  aloud  to  him  for  his  blessing  as  we  go  by. 

"It  is  not  by  our  own  will  that  we  sail  past,  0  father!" 
they  cry.  "Fain  would  we  kiss  thy  hand;  but  the  wind 
blows  and  the  merkeb  (boat)  goes,  and  we  have  no  power 
to  stay!" 

But  Sheik  Selim  neither  lifts  his  head  nor  shows  any 
sign  of  hearing,  and  in  a  few  minutes  the  mound  on  which 
he  sits  is  left  behind  in  the  gloaming. 

At  How,  where  the  new  town  is  partly  built  on  the 
mounds  of  the  old  (Diospolis  Parva),  we  next  morning 
saw  the  natives  transporting  small  boat-loads  of  ancient 
brick  rubbish  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  river,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  manuring  those  fields  from  which  the  early  durra 
crop  had  just  been  gathered  in.  Thus,  curiously  enough,  the 
mud  left  by  some  inundation  of  two  or  three  thousand  years 
ago  comes  at  last  to  the  use  from  which  it  was  then  diverted, 
and  is  found  to  be  more  fertilizing  than  the  new  deposit. 
At  Kasr  es  Sayd,  a  little  farther  on,  we  came  to  one  of  the 
well-known  "bad  bits"  —  a  place  where  the  bed  of  the 
river  is  full  of  sunken  rocks,  and  sailing  is  impossible. 
Here  the  men  were  half  the  day  punting  the  dahabeeyah 
over  the  dangerous  part,  while  we  grubbed  among  the 
mounds  of  what  was  once  the  ancient  city  of  Chenoboscion. 
These  remains,  which  cover  a  large  superficial  area  and 
consist  entirely  of  crude  brick  foundations,  are  very  inter- 
esting and  in  good  preservation.  We  traced  the  ground- 
plans  of  several  houses  ;  followed  the  passages  by  which 
they  were  separated  ;  and  observed  many  small  arches 
which  seemed  built  on  too  small  a  scale  for  doors  or  win- 
dows, but  for  which  it  wras  difficult  to  account  in  any 
other  way.  Brambles  and  weeds  were  growing  in  these 
deserted  inclosures  ;  while  rubbish-heaps,  excavated  pits, 
and  piles  of  broken  pottery  divided  the  ruins  and  made 
the  work  of  exploration  difficult.  We  looked  in  vain  for  the 
dilapidated  quay  and  sculptured  blocks  mentioned  in  Wil- 
kinson's "General  Yiew  of  Egypt";  but  if  the  foundation- 


104  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

stones  of  the  new  sugar  factory  close  against  the  mooring- 
place  could  speak,  they  would  no  doubt  explain  the  mys- 
tery. We  saw  nothing,  indeed,  to  show  that  Chenoboscion 
had  contained  any  stone  structures  whatever,  save  the 
broken  shaft  of  one  small  granite  column. 

The  village  of  Kasr  es  Sayd  consists  of  a  cluster  of  mud 
huts  and  a  sugar  factory;  but  the  factory  was  idle  that 
day  and  the  village  seemed  half  deserted.  The  view  here 
is  particularly  fine.  About  a  couple  of  miles  to  the 
southward,  the  mountains,  in  magnificent  procession,  come 
down  again  at  right  angles  to  the  river,  and  thence  reach 
away  in  long  ranges  of  precipitous  headlands.  The  plain, 
terminating  abruptly  against  the  foot  of  this  gigantic 
barrier,  opens  back  eastward  to  the  remotest  horizon — an 
undulating  sea  of  glistening  sand,  bordered  by  a  chaotic 
middle  distance  of  mounded  ruins.  Nearest  of  all,  a 
narrow  foreground  of  cultivated  soil,  green  with  young 
crops  and  watered  by  frequent  shadufs,  extends  along  the 
river  side  to  the  foot  of  the  mountains.  A  sheik's  tomb 
shaded  by  a  single  dom  palm  is  conspicuous  on  the  bank, 
while  far  away,  planted  amid  the  solitary  sands,  we  see  a 
large  Coptic  convent  with  many  cupolas;  a  cemetery  full  of 
Christian  graves;  and  a  little  oasis  of  date  palms  indicating 
the  presence  of  a  spring. 

The  chief  interest  of  this  scene,  however,  centers  in  the 
ruins;  and  these  —  looked  upon  from  a  little  distance, 
blackened,  desolate,  half-buried,  obscured  every  now  and 
then,  when  the  wind  swept  over  them,  by  swirling  clouds 
of  dust — reminded  us  of  the  villages  we  had  seen  not  two 
years  before,  half-overwhelmed  and  yet  smoking,  in  the 
midst  of  a  lava-torrent  below  Vesuvius. 

We  now  had  the  full  moon  again,  making  night  more 
beautiful  than  day.  Sitting  on  deck  for  hours  after  the 
sun  had  gone  down,  when  the  boat  glided  gently  on  with 
half-filled  sail  and  the  force  of  the  wind  was  spent,  we  used 
to  wonder  if  in  all  the  world  there  was  another  climate  in 
which  the  effect  of  moonlight  was  so  magical.  To  say 
that  every  object  far  or  near  was  visible  as  distinctly  as  by 
day,  yet  more  tenderly,  is  to  say  nothing.  It  was  not  only 
form  that  was  defined;  it  was  not  only  light  and  shadow 
that  were  vivid  —  it  was  color  that  was  present.  Color 
neither  deadened  nor  changed  ;  but  softened,  glowing, 
spiritualized,     The  amber  sheen  of  the  sand-island  in  the 


8IUT  TO  DENDERAH.  105 

middle  of  the  river,  the  sober  green  of  the  palm-grove,  the 
little  lady's  turquoise-colored  hood,  were  clear  to  the  sight 
and  relatively  true  in  tone.     The  oranges  showed  through 

the  bars  of  the  crute  like  nuggets  of  pure  gold.       L 'a 

crimson  shawl  glowed  with  a  warmer  dye  than  it  ever  wore 
by  day.  The  mountains  were  flushed  as  if  in  the  light  of 
sunset.  Of  all  the  natural  phenomena  that  we  beheld  in 
the  course  of  the  journey,  I  remember  none  that  surprised 
us  more  than  this.  We  could  scarcely  believe  at  first  that 
it  was  not  some  effect  of  afterg-low,  or  some  miraculous 
aurora  of  the  east.  But  the  sun  had  nothing  to  do  with 
that  flush  upon  the  mountains.  The  glow  was  in  the 
stone,  and  the  moonlight  but  revealed  the  local  color. 

For  some  days  before  they  came  in  sight  we  had  been 
eagerly  looking  for  the  Theban  hills;  and  now,  after  a 
night  of  rapid  sailing,  we  woke  one  morning  to  find  the 
sun  rising  on  the  wrong  side  of  the  boat,  the  favorable 
wind  dead  against  us,  and  a  picturesque  chain  of  broken 
peaks  upon  our  starboard  bow.  By  these  signs  we  knew 
that  we  must  have  come  to  the  great  bend  in  the  river 
between  How  and  Keneh,  and  that  these  new  mountains, 
so  much  more  varied  in  form  than  those  of  Middle  Egypt, 
must  be  the  mountains  behind  Denderah.  They  seemed 
to  lie  upon  the  eastern  bank,  but  that  was  an  illusion 
which  the  map  disproved,  and  which  lasted  only  till  the 
great  corner  was  fairly  turned.  To  turn  that  corner,  how- 
ever, in  the  teeth  of  wind  and  current,  was  no  easy  task, 
amTcost  us  two  long  days  of  hard  tracking. 

At  a  point  about  ten  miles  below  Denderah  we  saw 
some  thousands  of  fellaheen  at  work  amid  clouds  of  sand 
upon  the  embankments  of  a  new  canal.  They  swarmed 
over  the  mounds  like  ants,  and  the  continuous  murmur  of 
their  voices  came  to  us  across  the  river  like  the  humming 
of  innumerable  bees.  Others,  following  the  path  along  the 
bank,  were  pouring  toward  the  spot  in  an  unbroken  stream. 
The  Nile  must  here  be  nearly  half  a  mile  in  breadth;  but 
the  engineers  in  European  dress  and  the  overseers  with 
long  sticks  in  their  hands  were  plainly  distinguishable  by 
the  help  of  a  glass.  The  tents  in  which  these  officials  were 
camping  out  during  the  progress  of  the  work  gleamed 
white  among  the  palms  by  the  river  side.  Such  scenes 
must  have  been  common  enough  in  the  old  days  when  a 
conquering  Pharaoh,  returning  from  Libya  or  the  land  of 


10G  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Kush,  sethis  captives  to  raise  a  dyke,  or  excavate  a  lake, 
or  quarry  a  mountain.  The  Israelites,  building  the  mass- 
ive walls  of  Pithom  and  Rameses  with  bricks  of  their  own 
making,  must  have  presented  exactly  such  a  spectacle. 

That  we  were  witnessing  a  case  of  forced  labor  could 
not  be  doubted.  Those  thousands  yonder  had  most  certainly 
been  drafted  off  in  gangs  from  hundreds  of  distant  vil- 
lages, and  were  but  little  better  off,  for  the  time  being, 
than  the  captives  of  the  ancient  empire.  In  all  cases  of 
forced  labor  under  the  present  regime,  however,  it  seems 
that  the  laborer  is  paid,  though  very  insufficiently,  for  his 
unwilling  toil;  and  that  his  captivity  only  lasts  so  long  as 
the  work  for  which  he  has  been  pressed  remains  in  prog- 
ress. In  some  cases  the  term  of  service  is  limited  to 
three  or  four  months,  at  the  end  of  which  time  the  men 
are  supposed  to  be  returned  in  barges  'towed  by  goverment 
steam-tugs.  It  too  often  happens,  nevertheless,  that  the 
poor  souls  are  left  to  get  back  how  they  can;  and  thus 
many  a  husband  and  father  either  perishes  by  the  way  or 
is  driven  to  take  service  in  some  village  far  from  home. 
Meanwhile  his  wife  and  children,  being  scantily  supported 
by  the  Sheik  el  Beled,  fall  into  a  condition  of  semi-serf- 
dom; and  his  little  patch  of  ground,  left  unfilled  through 
seed-time  and  harvest,  passes  after  the  next  inundation 
into  the  hands  of  a  stranger. 

But  there  is  another  side  to  this  question  of  forced  labor. 
Water  must  be  had  in  Egypt,  no  matter  at  what  cost.  If 
the  land  is  not  sufficiently  irrigated  the  crops  fail  and  the 
nation  starves.  Now,  the  frequent  construction  of  canals 
has  from  immemorial  time  been  reckoned  among  the  first 
duties  of  an  Egyptian  ruler;  but  it  is  a  duty  which  cannot 
be  performed  without  the  willing  or  unwilling  co-operation 
of  several  thousand  workmen.  Those  who  are  best  ac- 
quainted with  the  character  and  temperof  the  fellah  maintain 
the  hopelessness  of  looking  to  him  for  voluntary  labor  of 
this  description.  Frugal,  patient,  easily  contented  as  he 
is,  no  promise  of  wages,  however  high,  would  tempt  him 
from  his  native  village.  What  to  him  are  the  needs  of  a 
district  six  or  seven  hundred  miles  away?  His  own  shadtif 
is  enough  for  his  own  patch,  and  so  long  as  he  can  raise  his 
three  little  crops  a  year  neither  he  nor  his  family  will 
starve.  How,  then,  are  these  necessary  public  works  to  be 
carried  out,  unless  by  means  of  the  corvee?     M.  About  has 


S1UT  10  DENDERAH.  107 

put  an  ingenious  summary  of  this  "other-side  "  argument 
into  the  mouth  of  his  ideal  fellah.  "It  is  not  the  em- 
peror," says  Ahmed  to  the  Frenchman,  "  who  causes  the 
rain  to  descend  upon  your  land;  it  is  the  west  wind — and 
the  benefit  thus  conferred  upon  you  exacts  no  penalty  of 
manual  labor.  But  in  Egypt,  where  the  rain  from 
heaven  falls  scarcely  three  times  in  the  year,  it  is  the  prince 
who  supplies  its  place  to  us  by  distributing  the  waters  of 
the  Nile.  This  can  only  be  done  by  the  work  of  men's 
hands;  and  it  is  therefore  to  the  interest  of  all  that  the 
hands  of  all  should  be  at  his  disposal." 

We  regarded  it,  I  think,  as  an  especial  piece  of  good  fort- 
une when  we  found  ourselves  becalmed  next  day  within 
three  or  four  miles  of  Denderah.  Abydos  comes  first  in 
order,  according  to  the  map;  but  then  the  temples  lie 
seven  or  eight  miles  from  the  river,  and,  as  we  happened 
just  thereabouts  to  be  making  some  ten  miles  an  hour,  we 
put  off  the  excursion  till  our  return.  Here,  however,  the 
ruins  lay  comparatively  near  at  hand,  and  in  such  a  posi- 
tion that  we  could  approach  them  from  below  and  rejoin 
our  dahabeeyah  a  few  miles  higher  up  the  river.  So,  leav- 
ing Rei's  Hassan  to  track  against  the  current,  we  landed  at 
the  first  convenient  point,  and,  finding  neither  donkeys  nor 
guides  at  hand,  took  an  escort  of  three  or  four  sailors  and 
set  off  on  foot. 

The  way  was  long,  the  day  was  hot,  and  we  had  only 
the  map  to  go  by.  Having  climbed  the  steep  bank  and 
skirted  an  extensive  palm-grove,  we  found  ourselves  in  a 
country  without  paths  or  roads  of  any  kind.  The  soil, 
squared  off  as  usual  like  a  gigantic  chess-board,  was  trav- 
ersed by  hundreds  of  tiny  water-channels,  between  which 
we  had  to  steer  our  course  as  best  we  could.  Presently  the 
last  belt  of  palms  was  passed — the  plain,  green  with  young 
corn  and  level  as  a  lake,  widened  out  at  the  foot  of  the 
mountains — and  the  temple,  islanded  in  that  sea  of  rip- 
pling emerald,  rose  up  before  us  upon  its  platform  of 
blackened  mounds. 

It  was  still  full  two  miles  away;  but  it  looked  enor- 
mous—  showing  from  this  distance  as  a  massive,  lowT- 
browed,  sharply  defined  mass  of  dead-white  masonry.  The 
walls  sloped  in  slightly  toward  the  top  ;  and  the  facade 
appeared  to  be  supported  on  eight  square  biers,  with  a 
large  doorway  in  the  center.     If  sculptured   ornament,  or 


108  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

cornice,  or  pictured  legend  enriched  those  walls,  we  were 
too  far  off  to  distinguish  them.  All  looked  strangely 
naked  and  solemn — more  like  a  tomb  than  a  temple. 

Nor  was  the  surrounding  scene  less  deathlike  in  its  solitude. 
Not  a  tree,  not  a  hut,  not  a  living  form  broke  the  green 
monotony  of  the  plain.  Behind  the  temple,  but  divided 
from  it  by  a  farther  space  of  mounded  ruins,  rose  the 
mountains — pinky,  aerial,  with  sheeny  sand-drifts  heaped 
in  the  hollows  of  their  bare  buttresses  and  spaces  of  soft 
blue  shadow  in  their  misty  chasms.  Where  the  range 
receded,  a  long  vista  of  glittering  desert  opened  to  the 
Libyan  horizon. 

Then  as  we  drew  nearer,  coming  by  and  by  to  a  raised 
causeway  which  apparently  connected  the  mounds  with 
some  point  down  by  the  river,  the  details  of  the  temple 
gradually  emerged  into  distinctness.  We  could  now  see 
the  curve  and  under  shadow  of  the  cornice;  and  a  small 
object  in  front  of  the  facade,  which  looked  at  first  sight 
like  a  monolithic  altar,  resolved  itself  into  a  massive  gate- 
way, of  the  kind  known  as  a  single  pylon.  Nearer  still, 
among  some  low  outlying  mounds,  we  came  upon  frag- 
ments of  sculptured  capitals  and  mutilated  statues  half- 
buried  in  rank  grass — upon  a  series  of  stagnant  niter-tanks 
and  deserted  workshops — upon  the  telegraph  poles  and 
wires  which  here  come  striding  along  the  edge  of  the  desert 
and  vanish  southward  with  messages  for  Nubia  and  the 
Soudan. 

Egypt  is  the  land  of  niter.  It  is  found  wherever  a  crude 
brick  mound  is  disturbed  or  an  antique  stone  structure  de- 
molished. The  Nile  mud  is  strongly  impregnated  with  it; 
and  in  Nubia  we  used  to  find  it  lying  in  thick  talc-like 
flakes  upon  the  surface  of  rocks  far  above  the  present  level 
of  the  inundation.  These  tanks  at  Dendenih  had  been 
sunk,  we  are  told,  when  the  great  temple  was  excavated  by 
Abbas  Pasha  more  than  twenty  years  ago.  The  niter  then 
found  was  utilized  out  of  hand;  washed  and  crystallized  in 
the  tanks;  and  converted  into  gunpowder  in  the  adjacent 
Avorkshops.  The  telegraph  wires  are  more  recent  intruders, 
and  the  work  of  the  khedive;  but  one  longed  to  put  them 
out  of  sight,  to  pull  down  the  gunpowder  sheds,  and  to 
fill  up  the  tanks  with  debris.  For  what  had  the  arts  of 
modern  warfare  or  the  wonders  of  modern  science  to  do 
with  Hathor,  the  Lady  of  Beauty  and  the  Western  Shades, 


SIUT  TO  DENDFAiAH.  109 

the  Nurse  of  Horns,  the  Egyptian  Aphrodite,  to  whom 
yonder  mountain  of  wrought  stone  and  all  these  wastes 
were  sacred? 

"We  were  by  this  time  near  enough  to  see  that  the  square 
piers  of  the  facade  were  neither  square  nor  piers,  but  huge 
round  columns  with  human-headed  capitals;  and  that  the 
walls,  instead  of  being  plain  and  tomb-like,  were  covered 
with  an  infinite  multitude  of  sculptured  figures.  The 
pylon — rich  with  inscriptions  and  bas-reliefs,  but  disfigured 
by  myriads  of  tiny  wasps"  nests,  like  clustered  mud-bubbles 
— now  towered  high  above  our  heads  and  led  to  a  walled 
avenue  cut  direct  through  the  mounds  and  sloping  down- 
ward to  the  main  entrance  of  the  temple. 

Not,  however,  till  we  stood  immediately  under  those 
ponderous  columns,  looking  down  upon  the  paved  floor 
below  and  up  to  the  huge  cornice  that  projected  overhead 
like  the  crest  of  an  impending  wave,  did  we  realize  the 
immense  proportions  of  the  building.  Lofty  as  it  looked 
from  a  distance,  we  now  found  that  it  was  only  the  in- 
terior that  had  been  excavated,  and  that  not  more  than 
two-thirds  of  its  actual  height  was  visible  above  the 
mounds.  The  level  of  the  avenue  was,  indeed,  at  its 
lowest  part  full  twenty  feet  above  that  of  the  first  great 
hall;  and  we  had  still  a  steep  temporary  staircase  to  go 
down  before  reaching  the  original  pavement. 

The  effect  of  the  portico  as  one  stands  at  the  top  of  this 
staircase  is  one  of  overwhelming  majesty.  Its  breadth,  its 
height,  the  massiveness  of  its  parts,  exceed  in  grandeur  all 
that  one  has  been  anticipating  throughout  the  long  two 
miles  of  approach.  The  immense  girth  of  the  columns, 
the  huge  screens  which  connect  them,  the  ponderous 
cornice  jutting  overhead,  confuse  the  imagination,  and  in 
the  absence  of  given  measurements*  appear,  perhaps,  even 
more  enormous  than  they  are.  Looking  up  to  the  archi- 
trave, we  see  a  kind  of  Egyptian  Panathenaic  procession  of 
carven  priests  and  warriors,  some  with  standards  and  some 
with  musical  instruments.  The  winged  globe,  depicted 
upon  a  gigantic  scale  in  the  curve  of  the  cornice,  seems  to 

*  Sir  G.  Wilkinson  states  the  total  length  of  the  temple  to  be 
ninety  three  paces,  or  two  hundred  and  twenty  feet;  and  the  width 
of  the  portico  fifty  paces.  Murray  gives  no  measurements;  neither 
does  Mariette  Bey  in  his  delightful  little  "  Itineraire;"  neither  does 
Furgusson,  nor  Champollion,  nor  any  other  writer  to  whose  works 
I  have  had  access. 


110  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

hover  above  the  central  doorway.  Hieroglyphs,  emblems, 
strange  forms  of  kings  and  gods,  cover  every  foot  of  wall- 
space,  frieze  and  pillar.  Nor  does  this  wealth  of  sur- 
face-sculpture tend  in  any  way  to  diminish  the  general 
effect  of  size.  It  would  seem,  on  the  contrary,  as  if  com- 
plex decoration  were  in  this  instance  the  natural  comple- 
ment to  simplicity  of  form.  Every  group,  every  inscription, 
appears  to  be  necessary  and  in  its  place;  an  essential  part  of 
the  building  it  helps  to  adorn.  Most  of  these  details  are 
as  perfect  as  on  the  day  when  the  last  workman  went  his 
way  and  the  architect  saw  his  design  completed.  Time 
has  neither  marred  the  surface  of  the  stone  nor  blunted 
the  work  of  the  chisel.  Such  injury  as  they  have  sustained 
is  from  the  hand  of  man;  and  in  no  country  has  the  hand 
of  man  achieved  more  and  destroyed  more  than  in  Egypt. 
The  Persians  overthrew  the  masterpieces  of  the  Pharaohs; 
the  Copts  mutilated  the  temples  of  the  Ptolemies  and 
Caesars;  the  Arabs  stripped  the  pyramids  and  carried- 
Memphis  away  piece-meal.  Here  at  Denderah  we  have  an 
example  of  Grseco-Egyptian  work  and  early  Christian 
fanaticism.     Begun  by  Ptolemy  XI,*  and  bearing  upon  its 

*  The  names  of  Augustus,  Caligula,  Tiberius,  Doinitian,  Claudius, 
and  Nero  are  found  in  the  royal  ovals;  the  oldest  being  those  of 
Ptolemy  XI,  the  founder  of  the  present  edifice,  which  was,  however, 
rebuilt  upon  the  site  of  a  succession  of  older  buildings,  of  which  the 
most  ancient  dated  back  as  far  as  the  reign  of  Khufu,  the  builder  of 
the  great  pyramid.  This  fact,  and  the  still  more  interesting  fact 
that  the  oldest  structure  of  all  was  believed  to  belong  to  the  incon- 
ceivably remote  period  of  the  Horshesu,  or  "  followers  of  Horus  " 
(i.  e.  the  petty  chiefs,  or  princes,  who  ruled  in  Egypt  before  the 
foundation  of  the  first  monarchy),  is  recorded  in  the  following  re- 
markable inscription  discovered  by  Mariette  in  one  of  the  crypts  con- 
structed in  the  thickness  of  the  walls  of  the  present  temple.  The 
first  text  relates  to  certain  festivals  to  be  celebrated  in  honor  of 
I  lathor,  and  states  that  all  the  ordained  ceremonies  had  been  performed 
by  King  Thothmes  III  (eighteenth  dynasty)  "in  memory  of  his 
mother,  Hathor  of  Denderah.  And  they  found  the  great  funda- 
mental rules  of  Denderah  in  ancient  writing,  written  on  goat-skin  in 
the  time  of  the  followers  of  Horus.  This  was  found  in  the  inside  of 
a  brick  wall  during  the  reign  of  King  Pepi  (sixth  dynasty)."  In  the 
same  crypt,  another  and  a  more  brief  inscription  runs  thus:  "  Great 
fundamental  rule  of  Denderah.  Restorations  done  by  Thothmes  III, 
according  to  what  was  found  in  ancient  writing  of  the  time  of  King 
Khufu."  Hereupon  Mariette  remarks:  "  The  temple  of  Denderah  is 
not,  then,  one  of  the  most  modern  in  Egypt,  except  in  so  far  as  it 
was  constructed  by  one  of  the  later  Lagidae.  Its  origin  is  literally 
lost  in  the  night  of  time."  See  "Denderah,  Description  Gfenerale," 
chap.  i.  pp.  55,  56. 


SWT  TO  BENDER All. 


Ill 


latest  ovals  the  name  and  style  of  Nero,  the  present  build- 
ing was  still  comparatively  new  when,  in  a.d.  379,  the 
ancient  religion 
was  abolished  by 
the  edict  of  The- 
odosius.  It  was 
then  the  most 
gorgeous  as  well 
asthe  most  recent 
of  all  those  larger 
temples  built 
during  the  pros- 
perous foreign 
rule  of  the  last 
seven  hundred 
years.  It  stood, 
surrounded  by 
groves  of  palm 
and  acacia,  with- 
in the  precints 
of  a  vast  in  clos- 
ure, the  walls  of 
which,  one  thou- 
sand feet  in 
length,  thirty- 
five  feet  in 
height  and  fif- 
teen feet  thick, 
are  still  traceable. 
A  dromos,  now 
buried  u  n  d  e  r 
twenty  feet  of 
debris,  led  from 
the  pylon  to  the 
portico.  The  py- 
lon is  there  still, 
a  partial  ruin  ; 
but  the  temple, 
with  its  roof,  its 
staircases  and  its 
secret  treasure-crypts,  is  in  all  essential  respects  as  per- 
fect as  on  the  day  when  its  splendor  was  given  over  to  the 
spoilers.    One  can  easily  imagine  how  these  spoilers  sacked 


CLEOPATRA. 


112  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

and  ravaged  all  before  them  ;  how  they  desecrated  the 
sacred  places  and  cast  down  the  statues  of  the  goddess  and 
divided  the  treasures  of  the  sanctuary.  They  did  not,  it 
is  true,  commit  such  wholesale  destruction  as  the  Persian 
invaders  of  nine  hundred  years  before;  but  they  were  mer- 
ciless iconoclasts  and  hacked  away  the  face  of  every  figure 
within  easy  reach,  both  inside  and  outside  the  building. 

Among  those  which  escaped,  however,  is  the  famous 
externa]  bas-relief  of  Cleopatra  on  the  back  of  the  temple. 
This  curious  sculpture  is  now  banked  up  with  rubbish  for 
its  better  preservation  and  can  no  longer  be  seen  by 
travelers.  It  was,  however,  admirably  photographed  some 
years  ago  by  Signor  Beati;  which  photograph  is  faithfully 
reproduced  in  the  annexed  engraving.  Cleopatra  is  here 
represented  with  a  head-dress  combining  the  attributes  of 
three  goddesses;  namely,  the  vulture  of  Maut  (the  head  of 
which  is  modeled  in  a  masterly  way),  the  horned  disk  of 
llathor  and  the  throne  of  Isis.  The  falling  mass  below 
the  head-dress  is  intended  to  represent  hair  dressed  accord- 
ing to  the  Egyptian  fashion,  in  an  infinite  number  of  small 
plaits,  each  finished  off  with  an  ornamental  tag.  The 
women  of  Egypt  and  Nubia  wear  their  hair  so  to  this  day 
and  unplait  it,  I  am  sorry  to  say,  not  oftener  than  once  in 
every  eight  or  ten  weeks.  The  Nubian  girls  fasten  each 
separate  tail  with  a  lump  of  Nile  mud  daubed  over  with 
yellow  ocher ;  but  Queen  Cleopatra's  silken  tresses  were 
probably  tipped  with  gilded  wax  or  gum. 

It  is  difficult  to  know  where  decorative  sculpture  ends 
and  portraiture  begins  in  a  work  of  this  epoch.  "We  can- 
not even  be  certain  that  a  portrait  was  intended;  though 
the  introduction  of  the  royal  oval  in  which  the  name  of 
Cleopatra  (Klaupatra)  is  spelled  with  its  vowel  sounds  in 
full,  would  seem  to  point  that  way.  If  it  is  a  portrait,  then 
large  allowance  must  be  made  for  conventional  treatment. 
The  fleshiness  of  the  features  and  the  intolerable  simper 
are  common  to  every  head  of  the  Ptolemaic  period.  The 
ear,  too,  is  pattern  work,  and  the  drawing  of  the  figure  is 
ludicrous.  Mannerism  apart,  however,  the  face  wants  for 
neither  individuality  nor  beauty.  Cover  the  mouth,  and 
you  have  an  almost  faultless  profile.  The  chin  and  throat 
are  also  quite  lovely;  while  the  whole  face,  suggestive  of 
cruelty,  subtlety,  and  voluptuousness,  carries  with  it  an 
indefinable  impression  not  oidy  of  portraiture,  but  of 
likeness. 


S1UT  TO  BENDER  AH.  113 

Tt,  is  not  without  something  like  a  shock  that  one  first 
sees  the  unsightly  havoc  wrought  upon  the  Hathor- headed 
columns  of  the  facade  at  Denderah.  The  massive  folds  of 
the  head-gear  are  there  ;  the  ears,  erect  and  pointed  like 
those  of  a  heifer,  are  there;  hut  of  the  benignant  face  of 
the  goddess  not  a  feature  remains.  Ampere,  describing 
these  columns  in  one  of  his  earliest  letters  from  Egypt, 
speaks  of  them  as  being  still  "  brilliant  with  colors  that 
time  had  had  no  power  to  efface."  Time,  however,  must 
have  been  unusually  busy  during  the  thirty  years  that  have 
gone  by  since  then;  for  though  we  presently  found  several 
instances  of  painted  bas-reliefs  in  the  small  inner 
chambers,  I  do  not  remember  to  have  observed  any 
remains  of  color  (save  here  and  there  a  faint  trace  of 
yellow  ocher)  on  the  external  decorations. 

Without,  all  was  sunshine  and  splendor;  within,  all  was 
silence  and  mystery.  A  heavy,  death-like  smell,  as  of 
long-imprisoned  gases,  met  us  on  the  threshold.  By  the 
half-light  that  strayed  in  through  the  portico  we  could  see 
vague  outlines  of  a  forest  of  giant  columns  rising  out  of 
the  gloom  below  and  vanishing  into  the  gloom  above. 
Beyond  these  again  appeared  shadowy  vistas  of  successive 
halls  leading  away  into  depths  of  impenetrable  darkness. 
It  required  no  great  courage  to  go  down  those  stairs  and 
explore  those  depths  with  a  party  of  fellow-travelers:  but 
it  would  have  been  a  gruesome  place  to  venture  into  alone. 

Seen  from  within,  the  portico  shows  as  a  vast  hall,  fifty 
feet  in  height  and  supported  on  twenty-four  Hathor- 
headed  columns.  Six  of  these,  being  engaged  in  the 
screen,  form  part  of  the  facade,  and  are  the  same  upon 
which  we  have  been  looking  from  without.  By  degrees,  as 
our  eyes  become  used  to  the  twilight,  we  see  here  and  there 
a  capital  which  still  preserves  the  vague  likeness  of  a 
gigantic  female  face;  while,  dimly  visible  on  every  wall, 
pillar,  and  doorway,  a  multitude  of  fantastic  forms — hawk- 
headed,  ibis-headed,  cow-headed,  mitered,  plumed,  holding 
aloft  strange  emblems,  seated  on  thrones,  performing 
mysterious  rites — seem  to  emerge  from  their  places,  like 
things  of  life.  Looking  up  to  the  ceiling,  now  smoke- 
blackened  and  defaced,  we  discover  elaborate  paintings  of 
scarabasi,  winged  globes,  and  zodiacal  emblems  divided  by 
borders  of  intricate  Greek  patterns,  the  prevailing  colors  of 
which  are  verditer  aud  chocolate.     Bauds  of  hieroglyphic 


114  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

inscriptions  of  royal  ovals,  of  Hathor-heads  of  mitered 
hawks,  of  lion-headed  chimeras,  of  divinities  and  kings  in 
bas-relief,  cover  the  shafts  of  the  great  columns  from  top 
to  bottom;  and  even  here,  every  accessible  human  face, 
however  small,  has  been  laboriously  mutilated. 

•  Bewildered  at  first  sight  of  these  profuse  and  mysterious 
decorations,  we  wander  round  and  round;  going  on  from 
the  first  hall  to  the  second,  from  the  second  to  the  third; 
and  plunging  into  deeper  darkness  at  every  step.  We 
have  been  reading  about  these  gods  and  emblems  for 
weeks  past — we  have  studied  the  plan  of  the  temple 
beforehand;  yet  now  that  we  are  actually  here,  our  book 
knowledge  goes  for  nothing,  and  we  feel  as  hopelessly 
ignorant  as  if  we  had  been  suddenly  landed  in  a  new  world. 
Not  till  we  have  got  over  this  first  feeling  of  confusion — 
not  till,  resting  awhile  on  the  base  of  one  of  the  columns, 
we  again  open  out  the  plan  of  the  building — do  we  begin  to 
realize  the  purport  of  the  sculptures  by  which  we  are 
surrounded. 

The  ceremonial  of  Egyptian  worship  was  essentially  pro- 
cessional. Herein  we  have  the  central  idea  of  every 
temple  and  the  key  to  its  construction.  It  was  bound  to 
contain  store-chambers  in  which  were  kept  vestments, 
instruments,  divine  emblems,  and  the  like;  laboratories  for 
the  preparation  of  perfumes  and  unguents;  treasuries  for 
the  safe  custody  of  holy  vessels  and"  precious  offerings; 
chambers  for  the  reception  and  purification  of  tribute  in 
kind  ;  halls  for  the  assembling  and  marshaling  of  priests 
and  functionaries  ;  and,  for  processional  purposes,  cor- 
ridors, staircases,  court-yards,  cloisters,  and  vast  inclosures 
planted  with  avenues  of  trees  and  surrounded  by  walls 
which  hedged  in  with  inviolable  secrecy  the  solemn  rites  of 
the  priesthood. 

In  this  plan,  it  will  be  seen,  there  is  no  provision  made 
for  anything  in  the  form  of  public  worship;  but  then  an 
Egyptian  temple  was  not  a  place  for  public  worship.  It 
was  a  treasure-house,  a  sacristy,  a  royal  oratory,  a  place  of 
preparation,  of  consecration,  of  sacerdotal  privacy.  There, 
in  costly  shrines,  dwelt  the  divine  images.  There  they 
were  robed  and  unrobed;  perfumed  with  incense;  visited 
and  worshiped  by  the  king.  On  certain  great  days  of  the 
calendar,  as  on  the  occasion  of  the  festival  of  the  new 
year,  or  the  panegyries   of   the  local  gods,  these  images 


SIUT  TO  DENDERAH.  115 

were  brought  out,  paraded  along  the  corridors  of  the 
temple,  carried  round  the  roof,  and  borne  with  waving  of 
banners,  and  chanting  of  hymns,  and  burning  of  incense, 
through  the  sacred  groves  of  the  inclosure.  Probably 
none  were  admitted  to  these  ceremonies  save  persons  of 
royal  or  priestly  birth.  To  the  rest  of  the  community,  all 
that  took  place  within  those  massy  walls  was  enveloped  in 
mystery.  It  may  be  questioned,  indeed,  whether  the 
great  mass  of  the  people  had  any  kind  of  personal  religion. 
They  may  not  have  been  rigidly  excluded  from  the  temple 
precincts,  but  they  seem  to  have  been  allowed  no  partici- 
pation in  the  worship  of  the  gods.  If  now  and  then,  on 
high  festival  days,  they  beheld  the  sacred  bark  of  the  deity 
carried  in  procession  round  the  temenos,  or  caught  a 
glimpse  of  moving  figures  and  glittering  ensigns  in  the 
pillared  dusk  of  the  Hypostyle  Hall,  it  was  all  they  ever 
beheld  of  the  solemn  services  of  their  church. 

The  temple  of  Denderah  consists  of  a  portico;  a  hall  of 
entrance;  a  hall  of  assembly;  a  third  hall,  which  may  be 
called  the  hall  of  the  sacred  boats  ;  one  small  ground-floor 
chapel;  and  upward  of  twenty  side  chambers  of  various 
sizes,  most  of  which  are  totally  dark.  Each  one  of  these 
halls  and  chambers  bears  the  sculptured  record  of  its  use. 
Hundreds  of  tableaux  in  bas-relief,  thousands  of  elaborate 
hieroglyphic  inscriptions,  cover  every  foot  of  available 
space  on  wall  and  ceiling  and  soffit,  on  doorway  and 
column,  and  on  the  lining-slabs  of  passages  and  staircases. 
These  precious  texts  contain,  amid  much  that  is  mystical 
and  tedious,  an  extraordinary  wealth  of  indirect  history. 
Here  we  find  programmes  of  ceremonial  observances;  num- 
berless legends  of  the  gods;  chronologies  of  kings  with 
their  various  titles  ;  registers  of  weights  and  measures; 
catalogues  of  offerings  ;  recipes  for  the  pre]^aration  of  oils 
and  essences  ;  records  of  repairs  and  restorations  done  to 
the  temple;  geographical  lists  of  cities  and  provinces; 
inventories  of  treasure,  and  the  like.  The  hall  of  assembly 
contains  a  calendar  of  festivals,  and  sets  forth  witli  studied 
precision  the  rites  to  be  performed  on  each  recurring  anni- 
versary. On  the  ceiling  of  the  portico  we  find  an  astronom- 
ical zodiac  ;  on  the  walls  of  a  small  temple  on  the  roof, 
the  whole  history  of  the  resurrection  of  Osiris,  together 
with  the  order  of  prayer  for  the  twelve  hours  of  the  night, 
and  a  calendar  of  the  festivals  of  Osiris  in  all  the  principal 


116  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TI1E  NILE. 

cities  of  Upper  and  Lower  Egypt.  Seventy  years  ago 
these  inscriptions  were  the  puzzle  and  despair  of  the 
learned  ;  but  since  modern  science  lias  plucked  out  the 
heart  of  its  mystery,  the  whole  temple  lies  before  us  as  an 
open  volume  filled  to  overflowing  with  strange  and  quaint 
and  heterogeneous  matter — a  Talmud  in  sculptured  stone.* 
Given  such  help  as  Mariette's  hand-book  affords,  one  can 
trace  out  most  of  these  curious  things  and  identify  the 
uses  of  every  hall  and  chamber  throughout  the  building. 
The  king,  in  his  double  character  of  Pharaoh  and  high 
priest,  is  the  hero  of  every  sculptured  scene.  Wearing 
sometimes  the  truncated  crown  of  Lower  Egypt,  some- 
times the  helmet-crown  of  Upper  Egypt,  and  some- 
times the  pschent,  which  is  a  combination  of  both,  he 
figures  in  every  tableau  and  heads  every  procession.  Be- 
ginning with  the  sculptures  of  the  portico,  we  see  him 
arrive,  preceded  by  his  five  royal  standards.  He  wears  his 
long  robe;  his  sandals  are  on  his  feet;  he  carries  his  staff 
in  his  hand.  Two  goddesses  receive  him  at  the  door  and 
conduct  him  into  the  presence  of  Thoth,  the  ibis-headed, 
and  Horns,  the  hawk-headed,  who  pour  upon  him  a  double 
stream  of  the  waters  of  life.  Thus  purified,  he  is  crowned 
by  the  goddesses  of  Upper  and  Lower  Egypt,  and  by 
them  consigned  to  the  local  deities  of  Thebes  and 
Heliopolis,  who  usher  him  into  the  supreme  presence  of 
Hathor.  He  then  presents  various  offerings  and  recites 
certain  prayers ;  whereupon  the  goddess  promises  him 
length  of  days,  everlasting  renown,  and  other  good  things. 
We  next  see  him,  always  with  the  same  smile  and  always  in 
the  same  attitude,  doing  homage  to  Osiris,  to  Horns  and 
other  divinities.  He  presents  them  with  flowers,  wine, 
bread,  incense;  while  they  in  return  promise  him  life,  joy, 
abundant  harvests,  victory,  and  the  love  of  his  people. 
These  pretty  speeches — chefs-d'oeuvre  of  diplomatic  style 
and  models  of  elegant  flattery — are  repeated  over  and  over 
again  in  scores  of  hieroglyphic  groups.  Mariette,  how- 
ever, sees  in  them  something  more  than  the  language  of 
the  court  grafted  upon  the  language  of  the  hierarchy;  he 

*  See  Mariette's  "  Denderah,"  which  contains  the  whole  of  these 
multitudinous  inscriptions  in  one  hundred  and  sixty-six  plates;  also 
a  selection  of  some  of  the  most  interesting  in  Brugsch  and  Dii- 
michen's  "  Recueil  de  Monuments  Egvptiens  "  and  "  Geographische 
Inschriften,"  1862,  1863,  1865  and  1866. 


SIUT  TO  DENDERAH.  117 

detects  the  language  of  the  schools,  and  discovers  in  the 
utterances  here  ascribed  to  the  king  and  the  gods  a  reflec- 
tion of  that  contemporary  worship  of  the  beautiful,  the 
good,  and  the  true,  which  characterized  the  teaching  of 
the  Alexandrian  Museum.* 

Passing  on  from  the  portico  to  the  hall  of  assembly, 
we  enter  a  region  of  still  dimmer  twilight,  beyond  which 
all  is  dark.  In  the  side-chambers,  where  the  heat  is 
intense  and  the  atmosphere  stifling,  we  can  see  only  by  the 
help  of  lighted  candles.  These  rooms  are  about  twenty 
feet  in  length;  separate,  like  prison  cells;  and  perfectly 
dark.  The  sculptures  which  cover  their  walls  are,  how- 
ever, as  numerous  as  those  in  the  outer  halls,  and  indicate 
in  each  instance  the  purpose  for  which  the  room  was  de- 
signed. Thus  in  the  laboratories  we  find  bas-reliefs  of 
flasks  and  vases  and  figures  carrying  perfume  bottles  of 
the  familiar  aryballos  form;  in  the  tribute  chambers,  offer- 
ings of  lotus  lilies,  wheat  sheaves,  maize,  grapes  and 
pomegranates.  In  the  oratories  of  Isis,  Amen,  and  Sekhet, 
representations  of  these  divinities  enthroned,  and  receiv- 
ing the  homage  of  the  king ;  while  in  the  treasury,  both 
king  and  queen  appear  laden  with  precious  gifts  of  caskets, 
necklaces,  pectoral  ornaments,  sistrums,  and  the  like.  It 
would  seem  that  the  image-breakers  had  no  time  to  spare 
for  these  dark  cells;  for  here  the  faces  and  figures  are  un- 
mutilated,  and  in  some  places  even   the  original  coloring 

*  Hathor  (or  more  correctly  Hat-hor,  i.  e.  the  abode  of  Horus),  is 
not  merely  tbe  Apbrodite  of  ancient  Egypt;  sbe  is  tbe  pupil  of  tbe 
eye  of  tbe  sun;  sbe  is  goddess  of  tbat  beneficent  planet  whose  rising 
heralds  the  waters  of  the  inundation;  sbe  represents  the  eternal 
youth  of  nature,  and  is  the  direct  personification  of  the  beautiful. 
She  is  also  goddess  of  truth.  "I  offer  the  truth  to  thee,  O  God- 
dess of  Denderah!"  says  the  king,  in  one  of  the  inscriptions  of  tbe 
sanctuary  of  the  sistrum;  "  for  truth  is  thy  work,  and  thou  thyself 
art  truth."  Lastly,  her  emblem  is  tbe  sistrum,  and  the  sound  of  the 
sistrum,  according  to  Plutarch,  was  supposed  to  terrify  and  expel 
Typhon  (tbe  evil  principle);  just  as  in  mediaeval  times  the  ringing 
of  church-bells  was  supposed  to  scare  Beelzebub  and  bis  crew. 
From  this  point  of  view,  the  sistrum  becomes  typical  of  the  triumph 
of  good  over  evil.  Mariette,  in  his  analysis  of  the  decorations  and 
inscriptions  of  this  temple,  points  out  bow  the  builders  were  influ- 
enced by  the  prevailing  philosophy  of  the  age,  and  how  they  veiled 
the  Platonism  of  Alexandria  beneath  the  symbolism  of  the  ancient 
religion.  The  Hat-bor  of  Denderah  was  in  fact  worshiped  in  a  sense 
unknown  to  tbe  Egyptians  of  pre-Ptolemaic  times. 


118  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

remains  in  excellent  preservation.  The  complexion  of  the 
goddesses,  for  instance,  is  painted  of  a  light  buff;  the 
king's  skin  is  dark-red;  that  of  Amen,  blue.  Isis  wears  a 
rich  robe  of  the  well-known  Indian  pine-pattern;  Sekhet 
figures  in  a  many  colored  garment  curiously  diapered  ; 
Amen  is  clad  in  red  and  green  chain  armor.  The  skirts 
of  the  goddesses  are  inconceivably  scant;  but  they  are  rich 
in  jewelry,  and  their  head-dresses,  necklaces,  and  bracelets 
are  full  of  minute  and  interesting  detail.  In  one  of  the 
four  oratories  dedicated  to  Sekhet,  the  king  is  depicted  in 
the  act  of  offering  a  pectoral  ornament  of  so  rich  and 
elegant  a  design  that,  had  there  been  time  and  daylight  to 
spare,  the  writer  would  fain  have  copied  it. 

In  the  center  room  at  tiie  extreme  end  of  the  temple, 
exactly  opposite  the  main  entrance,  lies  the  oratory  of 
llathor.  This  dark  chamber,  into  which  no  ray  of  day- 
light has  ever  penetrated,  contains  the  sacred  niche,  the 
holy  of  holies,  in  which  was  kept  the  great  golden  sistrum 
of  the  goddess.  The  king  alone  was  privileged  to  take  out 
that  mysterious  emblem.  Having  done  so,  he  inclosed  it 
in  a  costly  shrine,  covered  it  with  a  thick  veil,  and  placed 
it  in  one  of  the  sacred  boats  of  which  we  find  elaborate 
representations  sculptured  on  the  walls  of  the  hall  in 
which  they  were  kept.  These  boats,  which  were  con- 
structed of  cedar  wood,  gold,  and  silver,  were  intended  to 
be  hoisted  on  wrought  poles,  and  so  carried  in  procession 
on  the  shoulders  of  the  priests.  The  niche  is  still  there — 
a  mere  hole  in  the  hall,  some  three  feet  square  and  about 
eight  feet  from  the  ground. 

Thus,  candle  in  hand,  we  make  the  circuit  of  these 
outer  chambers.  In  each  doorway,  besides  the  place  cut 
out  for  the  bolt,  we  find  a  circular  hole  drilled  above  and  a 
quadrant-shaped  hollow  below,  where  once  upon  a  time  the 
pivot  of  the  door  turned  in  its  socket.  The  paved  floors, 
torn  up  by  treasure-seekers,  are  full  of  treacherous  holes 
and  blocks  of  broken  stone.  The  ceilings  are  very  lofty. 
In  the  corridors  a  dim  twilight  reigns;  but  all  is  pitch-dark 
beyond  these  gloomy  threshelds.  Hurrying  along  by  the 
light  of  a  few  flaring  candles,  one  cannot  but  feel  oppressed 
by  the  strangeness  and  awful ness  of  the  place.  We  speak 
with  bated  breath,  and  even  our  chattering  x\rabs  for  once 
are  silent.  The  very  air  tastes  as  if  it  had  been  imprisoned 
here  for  centuries. 


8IUT  TO  DENDERAII.  119 

Finally,  we  take  the  staircase  on  the  northern  side  of  the 
temple,  in  order  to  go  up  to  the  roof.  Nothing  that  we 
have  yet  seen  surprises  and  delights  us  so  much,  I  think, 
as  this  staircase. 

We  have  hitherto  been  tracing  in  their  order  all  the 
preparations  for  a  great  religious  ceremony.  We  have  seen 
the  king  enter  the  temple;  undergo  the  symbolical  purifi- 
cation; receive  the  twofold  crown;  and  say  his  prayers  to 
each  divinity  in  turn.  We  have  followed  him  into  the 
laboratories,  the  oratories,  and  the  holy  of  holies.  All  that 
he  has  yet  done,  however,  is  preliminary.  The  procession 
is  yet  to  come,  and  here  we  have  it.  Here,  sculptured  on 
the  walls  of  this  dark  staircase,  the  crowning  ceremony  of 
Egyptian  worship  is  brought  before  our  eyes  in  all  its 
details.  Here,  one  by  one,  we  have  the  standard-bearers, 
the  hierophants  with  the  offerings,  the  priests,  the  whole 
long,  wonderful  procession,  with  the  king  marching  at  its 
head.  Fresh  and  uninjured,  as  if  they  had  but  just  left 
the  hand  of  the  sculptor,  these  figures — each  in  his  habit 
as  he  lived,  each  with  his  foot  upon  the  step — mount  with 
us  as  we  mount,  and  go  beside  us  all  the  way.  Their 
attitudes  are  so  natural,  their  forms  so  roundly  cut,  that 
one  could  almost  fancy  them  in  motion  as  the  lights  flicker 
by.  Surely  there  must  be  some  one  weird  night  in  the 
year  when  they  step  out  from  their  places  and  take  up  the 
next  verse  of  their  chanted  hymn,  and,  to  the  sound  of 
instruments  long  mute  and  songs  long  silent,  pace  the 
moonlit  roof  in  ghostly  order  ! 

The  sun  is  already  down  and  the  crimson  light  has 
faded,  when  at  length  we  emerge  upon  that  vast  terrace. 
The  roofing-stones  are  gigantic.  Striding  to  and  fro  over 
some  of  the  biggest,  our  idle  man  finds  several  that 
measure  seven  paces  in  length  by  four  in  breadth.  In 
yonder  distant  corner,  like  a  little  stone  lodge  in  a  vast 
court-yard,  stands  a  small  temple  supported  on  Hathor- 
headed  columns;  while  at  the  eastern  end,  forming  a  second 
and  loftier  stage,  rises  the  roof  of   the  portico. 

Meanwhile,  the  after-glow  is  fading.  The  mountains  are 
yet  clothed  in  an  atmosphere  of  tender  half-light;  but 
mysterious  shadows  are  fast  creeping  over  the  plain,  and 
the  mounds  of  the  ancient  city  lie  at  our  feet,  confused 
and  tumbled,  like  the  waves  of  a  dark  sea.  How  high  it 
is  here— how  lonely— how  silent!   Hark  that  thin,  plaintive 


120  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

cry!  It  is  the  wail  of  a  night-wandering  jackal.  See  how 
dark  it  is  yonder,  in  the  direction  of  the  river!  Quick, 
quick!  We  have  lingered  too  long.  We  must  be  gone  at 
once;  for  we  are  already  benighted. 

We  ought*  to  have  gone  down  by  way  of  the  opposite 
staircase  (which  is  lined  with  sculptures  of  the  descending 
procession)  and  out  through  the  temple;  but  there  is  no 
time  to  do  anything  but  scramble  down  by  a  breach  in  the 
wall  at  a  point  where  the  mounds  yet  lie  heaped  against  the 
south  side  of  the  building.  And  now  the  dusk  steals  on  so 
rapidly  that  before  we  reach  the  bottom  we  can  hardly  see 
where  to  tread.  The  huge  side  wall  of  the  portico  seems 
to  tower  above  us  to  the  very  heavens.  We  catch  a  glimpse 
of  two  colossal  figures,  one  lion-headed  and  the  other  head- 
less, sitting  outside  with  their  backs  to  the  temple.  Then, 
making  with  all  speed  for  the  open  plain,  we  clamber  over 
scattered  blocks  and  among  shapeless  mounds.  Presently 
night  overtakes  us.  The  mountains  disappear;  the  temple 
is  blotted  out;  and  we  have  only  the  faint  starlight  to 
guide  us.  We  stumble  on,  however,  keeping  all  close  to- 
gether; firing  a  gun  every  now  and  then,  in  the  hope  of 
being  heard  by  those  in  the  boats;  and  as  thoroughly 
and  undeniably  lost  as  the  babes  in  the  wood. 

At  last,  just  as  some  are  beginning  to  knock  up,  and  all 
to  despair,  Talhamy  fires  his  last  cartridge.  An  answering 
shot  replies  from  near  by;  a  wandering  light  appears  in 
the  distance;  and  presently  a  whole  bevy  of  dancing  lan- 
terns and  friendly  brown  faces  come  gleaming  out  from 
among  a  plantation  of  sugar-canes  to  welcome  and  guide 
us  home.  Dear,  sturdy,  faithful  little  Rei's  Hassan,  honest 
Khalifeh,  laughing  Salame,  gentle  Mehemet  Ali,  and 
Musa,  "  black  but  comely" — they  were  all  there.  What  a 
shaking  of  hands  there  was — what  a  gleaming  of  white 
teeth — what  a  shower  of  mutually  unintelligible  congratu- 
lations! For  my  own  part,  I  may  say  with  truth  that  I 
never  was  much  more  rejoiced  at  a  meeting  in  my  life. 


TUtiBES  AND  KABNAK.  121 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

THEBES   AND    KARNAK. 

Coming  on  deck  the  third  morning  after  leaving  Den- 
derah,  we  found  the  dahabeeyah  decorated  with  palm- 
branches,  our  sailors  in  their  holiday  turbans,  and  Re'is 
Hassan  en  grande  tenuej  that  is  to  say,  in  shoes  and  stock- 
ings, which  he  only  wore  on  very  great  occasions. 

"Neharak-sa'id — good-morning — Luxor!"  said  he,  all  in 
one  breath. 

It  was  a  hot,  hazy  morning,  with  dim  ghosts  of  mount- 
ains glowing  through  the  mist  and  a  warm  wind  blowing. 

We  ran  to  the  side;  looked  out  eagerly;  but  could  see 
nothing.  Still  the  captain  smiled  and  nodded;  and  the 
sailors  ran  hither  and  thither,  sweeping  and  garnishing; 
and  Egendi,  to  whom  his  worst  enemy  could  not  have  im- 
puted the  charge  of  bashfulness,  said:  "  Luxor — kharuf* — 
all  right!" — every  time  he  came  near  us. 

We  had  read  and  dreamed  so  much  about  Thebes,  and 
it  had  always  seemed  so  far  away,  that  but  for  this  delicate 
allusion  to  the  promised  sheep,  we  could  hardly  have  be- 
lieved we  were  really  drawing  nigh  unto  those  famous 
shores.  About  ten,  however,  the  mist  was  lifted  away  like 
a  curtain,  and  we  saw  to  the  left  a  rich  plain  studded  with 
palm-groves;  to  the  right  a  broad  margin  of  cultivated 
lands  bounded  by  a  bold  range  of  limestone  mountains; 
and  on  the  farthest  horizon  another  range,  all  gray  and 
shadowy. 

"  Karnak — Grournah — Luxor!"  says  Rei's  Hassan,  tri- 
umphantly, pointing  in  every  direction  at  once.  Talhamy 
tries  to  show  us  Medinet  Habu  and  the  Memnonium.  The 
painter  vows  he  can  see  the  heads  of  the  sitting  colossi 
and  the  entrance  to  the  valley  of  the  tombs  of  the  kings. 

We,   meanwhile,   stare  bewildered,   incredulous;    seeing 

*  Arabic,  "  kharuf,"  pronounced  "haroof" — English,  sheep. 


122  A  THO  US  AND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

none  of  these  things;  finding  it  difficult,  indeed,  to  believe 
that  any  one  else  sees  them.  The  river  widens  away 
before  us;  the  flats  are  green  on  either  side;  the  mountains 
are  pierced  with  terraces  of  rock-cut  tombs ;  while  far 
away  inland,  apparently  on  the  verge  of  the  desert,  we  see 
here  a  clump  of  sycamores — yonder  a  dark  hillock — mid- 
way between  both  a  confused  heap  of  something  that  may 
be  either  fallen  rock  or  fallen  masonry;  but  nothing  that 
looks  like  a  temple,  nothing  to  indicate  that  we  are  already 
within  recognizable  distance  of  the  grandest  ruins  in  the 
world. 

Presently,  however,  as  the  boat  goes  on,  a  massive,  win- 
dowless  structure  which  looks  (heaven  preserve  us  !) 
just  like  a  brand-new  fort  or  prison,  towers  up  above 
the  palm-groves  to  the  left.  This,  we  are  told,  is  one 
of  the  propylons  of  Karnak;  while  a  few  whitewashed 
huts  and  a  little  crowd  of  masts  now  coming  into 
sight  a  mile  or  so  higher  up  mark  the  position  of 
Luxor.  Then  up  capers  Egendi  with  his  never-failing 
"Luxor — kharui —  all  right!"  to  fetch  down  the  tar 
and  darabukkeh.  The  captain  claps  his  hands.  A  circle 
is  formed  on  the  lower  deck.  The  men,  all  smiles,  strike 
up  their  liveliest  chorus,  and  so,  with  barbaric  music  and 
well-filled  sails,  and  flags  flying,  and  green  boughs  waving 
overhead,  we  make  our  triumphal  entry  into  Luxor. 

The  top  of  another  pylon;  the  slender  peak  of  an  obelisk; 
a  colonnade  of  giant  pillars  half-buried  in  the  soil;  the 
white  houses  of  the  English,  American  and  Prussian  con- 
suls, each  with  its  flagstaff  and  ensign;  a  steep  slope  of 
sandy  shore;  a  background  of  mud  walls  and  pigeon-towers; 
a  foreground  of  native  boats  and  gayly  painted  dahabeeyahs 
lying  at  anchor — such,  as  we  sweep  by,  is  our  first  pan- 
oramic view  of  this  famous  village.  A  group  of  turbaned 
officials  sitting  in  the  shade  of  an  arched  doorway  rise  and 
salute  us  as  we  pass.  The  assembled  dahabeeyahs  dozing 
with  folded  sails,  like  sea-birds  asleep,  are  roused  to 
spasmodic  activity.  Flags  are  lowered;  guns  are  fired;  all 
Luxor  is  startled  from  its  midday  siesta.  Then,  before  the 
smoke  has  had  time  to  clear  off,  up  comes  the  Bagstones 
in  gallant  form;  whereupon  the  dahabeeyahs  blaze  away 
again  as  before. 

And  now  there  is  a  rush  of  donkeys  and  donkey  boys, 
beggars,  guides  and   antiquity-dealers,  to  the   shore — the 


THEBES  AND  KARNAK.  \  :y.) 

children  screaming  for  backshish;  the  dealers  exhibiting 
strings  of  imitation  scarabs;  the  donkey  boys  vociferating 
the  names  and  praises  of  their  beasts;  all  alike  regarding 
us  as  their  lawful  prey. 

"Hi,  lady!  Yankee-Doodle  donkey;  try  Yankee  Doo- 
dle !"  cries  one. 

"  Far-away  Moses  !"  yells  another.  "  Good  donkey — 
fast  donkey — best  donkey  in  Luxor  !" 

"This  Prince  of  Wales  donkey  !"  shouts  a  third,  haul- 
ing forward  a  decrepit  little  weak-kneed,  moth-eaten  look- 
ing animal,  about  as  good  to  ride  upon  as  a  towel-horse. 
"First-rate  donkey!  splendid  donkey!  God  save  the 
queen  !     Hurrah  \" 

But  neither  donkeys  nor  scarabs  are  of  any  importance 
in  our  eyes  just  now,  compared  with  the  letters  we  hope  to 
find  awaiting  us  on  shore.  No  sooner,  therefore,  are  the 
boats  made  fast  than  we  are  all  off,  some  to  the  British 
consulate  and  some  to  the  poste  restante,  from  both  of 
which  we  return  rich  and  happy. 

Meanwhile  we  propose  to  spend  only  twenty-four  "hours 
in  Luxor.  We  were  to  ride  round  Karnek  this  first  after= 
noon  ;  to  cross  to  Medinet  Habu  and  the  Bamesseum*  to- 
morrow morning;  and  to  sail  again  as  soon  after  midday  as 
possible.  We  hope  to  get  a  general  idea  of  the  topography 
of  Thebes,  and  to  carry  away  a  superficial  impression  of 
the  architectural  style  of  the  Pharaohs.  It  would  be  but 
a  glimpse;  yet  that  glimpse  was  essential.  For  Thebes 
represents  the  great  central  period  of  Egyptian  art.  The 
earlier  styles  lead  up  to  that  point;  the  later  depart  from  it; 
and  neither  the  earlier  nor  the  later  are  intelligible  with- 
out it.  At  the  same  time,  however,  travelers  bound  for 
the  second  cataract  do  well  to  put  off  everything  like  a 
detailed  study  of  Thebes  till  the  time  of  coming  back. 
For  the  present,  a  rapid  survey  of  the  three  principal 
group  of  ruins  is  enough.  It  supplies  the  necessary  link,, 
It  helps  one  to  a  right  understanding  of  Edfu,  of  Phila?, 
of  Abu  Simbel.     In  a  word,  it  enables  one  to  put  things 

*  This  famous  building  is  supposed  by  some  to  be  identical  both 
with  the  Memnonium  of  Strabo  and  the  tomb  of  Osymandias  as 
described  by  Diodorus  Si  cuius.  Champollion,  however,  following 
the  sense  of  the  hieroglyphed  legends,  in  which  it  is  styled  "The 
House  of  Rameses  "  (II),  has  given  to  it  the  more  appropriate  name 
of  the  Ramesseum. 


124  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

in  their  right  places;  and  this,  after  all,  is  a  mental  process 
which  every  traveler  must  perform  for  himself. 

Thebes,  I  need  scarcely  say,  was  built,  like  London,  on 
both  sides  of  the  river.  Its  original  extent  must  have  been 
very  great;  but  its  public  buildings,  its  quays,  its  thousands 
of  private  dwellings,  are  gone  and  have  left  few  traces. 
The  secular  city,  which  was  built  of  crude  brick,  is  repre- 
sented by  a  few  insignificant  mounds;  while  of  the  sacred 
edifice,  five  large  groups  of  limestone  ruins — three  on  the 
western  bank  and  two  on  the  eastern,  together  with  the  re- 
mains of  several  small  temples  and  a  vast  multitude  of 
tombs — are  all  that  remain  in  permanent  evidence  of  its 
ancient  splendor.  Luxor  is  a  modern  Arab  village,  occupy- 
ing the  site  of  one  of  the  oldest  of  these  five  ruins.  It 
stands  on  the  eastern  bank,  close  agaiust  the  river,  about 
two  miles  south  of  Karnak  and  nearly  opposite  the  famous 
sitting  colossi  of  the  western  plain.  On  the  opposite 
bank  lie  Gournah,  the  Ramesseum,  aud  Medinet  Habu. 
A  glance  at  the  map  will  do  more  than  pages  of  explana- 
tion to  show  the  relative  position  of  these  ruins.  The 
Temple  of  Gournah,  it  will  be  seen,  is  almost  vis-a-vis  of 
Karnak.  The  Ramesseum  faces  about  half-way  between 
Karnak  and  Luxor.  Medinet  Habu  is  placed  farther  to 
the  south  than  any  building  on  the  eastern  side  of  the 
river.  Behind  these  three  western  groups,  reaching  far 
and  wide  along  the  edge  of  the  Libyan  range,  lies  the  great 
Theban  "Necropolis;  while  farther  back  still,  in  the  radiat- 
ing valleys  on  the  other  side  of  the  mountains,  are  found 
the  tombs  of  the  kings.  The  distance  between  Karnak 
and  Luxor  is  a  little  less  than  two  miles;  while  from  Medi- 
net Habu  to  the  Temple  of  Gournah  may  be  roughly 
guessed  at  something  under  four.  We  have  here,  there- 
fore, some  indication  of  the  extent,  though  not  of  the 
limits,  of  the  ancient  city. 

Luxor  is  a  large  village  inhabited  by  a  mixed  population 
of  Copts  and  Arabs  and  doing  a  smart  trade  in  antiquities. 
The  temple  has  here  formed  the  nucleus  of  the  village,  the 
older  part  of  which  has  grown  up  in  and  about  the  ruins. 
The  grand  entrance  faces  north,  looking  down  toward 
Karnak.  The  twin  towers  of  the  great  propylon,  dilapi- 
dated as  they  are,  stripped;  of  their  cornices,  incumbered 
with  debris,  are  magnificent  still.  In  front  of  them,  one 
on   each  side  of   the  central  gateway    sit   two   helmeted 


THEBES  AND  EAENAK.  125 

colossi,  battered  and  featureless  and  buried  to  the  chin, 
like  two  of  the  proud  in  the  doleful  fifth  circle.  A  few 
yards  in  front  of  these  again  stands  a  solitary  obelisk,  also 
half-buried.  The  colossi  are  of  black  granite;  the  obelisk 
is  of  red,  highly  polished  and  covered  on  all  four  sides 
with  superb  hieroglyphs  in  three  vertical  columns.  These 
hieroglyphs  are  engraved  with  the  precision  of  the  finest 
gem.  They  are  cut  to  a  depth  of  about  two  inches  in  the 
outer  columns  and  five  inches  in  the  central  column  of  the 
inscription.  The  true  height  of  this  wonderful  monolith 
is  over  seventy  feet,  between  thirty  and  forty  of  which  are 
hidden  under  the  accumulated  soil  of  many  centuries.  Its 
companion  obelisk,  already  scaling  away  by  imperceptible 
degrees  under  the  skyey  influences  of  an  alien  climate, 
looks  down  with  melancholy  indifference  upon  the  petty 
revolutions  and  counter-revolutions  of  the  Place  de  la 
Concorde.  On  a  line  with  the  two  black  colossi,  but  some 
fifty  feet  or  so  farther  to  the  west,  rises  a  third  and  some- 
what smaller  head  of  chert  or  limestone,  the  fellow  to 
which  is  doubtless  hidden  among  the  huts  that  encroach 
half-way  across  the  face  of  the  eastern  tower.  The  whole 
outer  surface  of  these  towers  is  covered  with  elaborate 
sculptures  of  gods  and  men,  horses  and  chariots,  the  pa- 
geantry of  triumph' and  the  carnage  of  war.  The  king 
in  his  chariot  draws  his  terrible  bow,  or  slays  his  enemies 
on  foot,  or  sits  enthroned,  receiving  the  homage  of  his 
court.  Whole  regiments  armed  with  lance  and  shield 
march  across  the  scene.  The  foe  flies  in  disorder.  The 
king,  attended  by  his  fan-bearers,  returns  in  state,  and  the 
priests  burn  incense  before  hi  in. 

This  king  is  Barneses  II,  called  Sesostris  and  Osymandias 
by  ancient  writers,  and  best  known  to  history  as  Rameses 
the  Great.  His  actual  names  and  titles  as  they  stand  upon 
the  monuments  are  Ra-user-ma  Sotp-en-Ra  Ra-messu  Mer- 
Amen;  that  is  to  say:  "  Ra  strong  in  truth,  approved  of 
Ra,  son  of  Ra,  beloved  of  Amen." 

The  battle  scenes  here  represented  relate  to  that  memor- 
able campaign  against  the  Kheta,  which  forms  the  subject  of 
the  famous  "  Third  Sallier  Papyrus."*  and  is  commemorated 

*  Translated  into  French  by  the  late  Vicomte  de  Rouge  under  the 
title  of  "Le  Poernede  Pentaour,"  1856;  into  English  by  Mr.  Goodwin, 
1858;  and  again  by  Professor  Lushington  in  1874.  See  "  Records  of 
the  Past,"  vol,  ii. 


log  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

upon  the  walls  of  almost  every  temple  built  by  this  mon- 
arch. Separated  from  his  army  and  surrounded  by  the 
enemy,  the  king,  attended  only  by  his  chariot-driver,  is 
said  to  have  six  times  charged  the  foe — to  have  hewn  them 
down  with  his  sword  of  might — to  have  trampled  them 
like  straw  beneath  his  horses' feet — to  have  dispersed  them, 
single-handed,  like  a  god.  Two  thousand  five  hundred 
chariots  were  there  and  he  overthrew  them;  one  hundred 
thousand  warriors  and  he  scattered  them.  Those  that  he 
slew  not  with  his  hand  he  chased  unto  the  water's  edge, 
causing  them  to  leap  to  destruction  as  leaps  the  crocodile. 
Such  was  the  immortal  feat  of  Rameses,  and  such  the 
chronicle  written  by  the  royal  scribe,  Pentaur. 

Setting  aside  the  strain  of  Homeric  exaggeration,  which 
runs  through  this  narrative,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  it 
records  some  brilliant  deed  of  arms  actually  performed  by 
the  king,  within  sight,  though  not  within  reach,  of  his 
army;  and  the  hieroglyphic  texts  interspersed  among  these 
tableaux  state  that  the  events  depicted  took  place  on  the 
fifth  clay  of  the  month  Epiphi,  in  the  fifth  year  of  his  reign. 
By  this  we  must  understand  the  fifth  year  of  his  sole  reign, 
which  would  be  five  years  after  the  death  of  his  father, 
Seti  I,  with  whom  he  had  from  an  early  age  been  associated 
on  the  throne.  He  was  a  man  in  the  prime  of  life  at  the 
time  of  this  famous  engagement,  which  was  fought  under 
the  walls  of  Kadesh  on  the  Orontes;  and  the  bas-relief 
sculptures  show  him  to  have  been  accompanied  by  several 
of  his  sons,  who,  though  evidently  very  young,  are  repre- 
sented in  their  war-chariots,  fully  armed  and  taking  part 
in  the  battle.* 

The  mutilated  colossi  are  portrait  statues  of  the  con- 
queror. The  obelisk,  in  the  pompous  style  of  Egyptian 
dedications,  proclaims  that  "The  Lord  of  the  World, 
Guardian-Sun  of  Truth,  approved  of  Ra,  has  built  this 
edifice  in  honor  of  his  father  Amen  Ra,  and  has  erected 
to  him  these  two  great  obelisks  of  stone  in  face  of  the 
house  of  Rameses  in  the  city  of  Amnion." 

*  According  to  tbe  great  inscription  of  Abydos  translated  by  Pro- 
fessor Maspero,  Rameses  II  would  seem  to  have  been  in  some  sense 
king  from  bis  birtb,  as  if  tbe  tbrone  of  Egypt  came  to  bim  tbrougb 
bis  rnotber,  and  as  if  bis  fatber,  Seti  I,  bad  reigned  for  bim  during 
bis  infancy  as  king-regent,  Some  inscriptions,  indeed,  sbow  bim  to 
bave  received  bomage  even  before  bis  birtb 


THEBES  AND  EARNAK.  127 

So  stately  was  the  approach  made  by  Rameses  the  Great 
to  the  temple  founded  about  a  hundred  and  fifty  years  be- 
fore his  time  by  Amenhotep  III.  He  also  built  the  court- 
yard upon  which  this  pylon  opened,  joining  it  to  the  older 
part  of  the  building  in  such  wise  that  the  original  first  court 
became  now  the  second  court,  while  next  in  order  came  the 
portico,  the  hall  of  assembly,  and  the  sanctuary.  By  and  by, 
when  the  long  line  of  Rameses  had  passed  away,  other  and 
later  kings  put  their  hands  to  the  work.  The  names  of  Sha- 
baka  (Sabaco),  of  Ptolemy  Philopater  and  of  Alexander 
the  younger  appear  among  the  later  inscriptions;  while 
those  of  Amenhotep  IV  (Khu-en-Aten),  Horemheb  and 
Seti,  the  father  of  Rameses  the  Great,  are  found  in  the 
earlier  parts  of  the  building.  It  was  in  this  way  that  an 
Egyptian  temple  grew  from  age  to  age,  owing  a  colon- 
nade to  this  king  and  a  pylon  to  that,  till  it  came  in  time 
to  represent  the  styles  of  many  periods.  Hence,  too,  that 
frequent  irregularity  of  plan,  which,  unless  it  could  be 
ascribed  to  the  caprices  of  successive  builders,  would  form 
so  unaccountable  a  feature  in  Egyptian  architecture.  In 
the  present  instance,  the  pylon  and  court-yard  of  Rameses 
II  are  set  at  an  angle  of  five  degrees  to  the  court-yard  and 
sanctuary  of  Amenhotep  III.  This  has  evidently  been 
done  to  bring  the  Temple  of  Luxor  into  a  line  with  the 
Temple  of  Karnak,  in  order  that  the  two  might  be  con- 
nected by  means  of  that  stupendous  avenue  of  sphinxes, 
the  scattered  remains  of  which  yet  strew  the  course  of  the 
ancient  roadway. 

As  I  have  already  said,  these  half-buried  pylons,  this 
solitary  obelisk,  those  giant  heads  rising  in  ghastly  resur- 
rection before  the  gates  of  the  temple,  were  magnificent 
still.  But  it  was  as  the  magnificence  of  a  splendid  pro- 
logue to  a  poem  of  which  only  garbled  fragments  remain. 
Beyond  that  entrance  lay  a  smoky,  filthy,  intricate  laby- 
rinth of  lanes  and  passages.  Mud  hovels,  mud  pigeon- 
towers,  mud  yards  and  a  mud  mosque,  clustered  like 
wasps'  nests  in  and  about  the  ruins.  Architraves  sculpt- 
ured with  royal  titles  supported  the  roofs  of  squallid 
cabins.  Stately  capitals  peeped  out  from  the  midst  of 
sheds  in  which  buffaloes,  camels,  donkeys,  dogs  and  human 
beings  were  seen  herding  together  in  unsavory  fellowship. 
Cocks  crew,  hens  cackled,  pigeons  cooed,  turkeys  gobbled, 
children  swarmed,  women  were  baking  and  gossiping  and 


128  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

all  the  sordid  routine  of  Arab  life  was  going  on,  amid 
winding  alleys  that  masked  the  colonnades  and  defaced  the 
inscriptions  of  the  Pharaohs.  To  trace  the  plan  of  this 
part  of  the  building  was  then  impossible. 

All  communication  being  cut  off  between  the  courts  and 
the  portico,  we  had  to  go  round  outside  and  through  a 
door  at  the  farther  end  of  the  temple  in  order  to  reach 
the  sanctuary  and  the  adjoining  chambers.  The  Arab 
who  kept  the  key  provided  an  inch  or  two  of  candle.  For 
it  was  very  dark  in  there;  the  roof  being  still  perfect,  with 
a  large,  rambling,  modern  house  built  on  the  top  of  it — so 
that  if  this  part  of  the  temple  was  ever  partially  lighted,  as 
at  Denderah  and  elsewhere,  by  small  wedge-like  openings 
in  the  roof,  even  those  faint  gleams  were  excluded. 

The  sanctuary,  which  was  rebuilt  in  the  reign  of  Alex- 
ander iEgus;  some  small  side  chambers;  and  a  large  hall, 
which  was  perhaps  the  hall  of  assembly,  were  all  that 
remained  under  cover  of  the  original  roofing-stones.  Some 
half-buried  and  broken  columns  on  the  side  next  the  river 
showed,  however,  that  this  end  was  formerly  surrounded 
by  a  colonnade.  The  sanctuary — an  oblong  granite  cham- 
ber with  its  own  separate  roof — stands  inclosed  in  a  larger 
hall,  like  a  box  within  a  box,  and  is  covered  inside  and 
outside  with  bas-reliefs.  These  sculptures  (among  which 
I  observed  a  kneeling  figure  of  the  king,  offering  a  kneel- 
ing image  of  Amen  Ra)  are  executed  in  the  mediocre  style 
of  the  Ptolemies.  That  is  to  say,  the  forms  are  more 
natural  but  less  refined  than  those  of  the  Pharaonic  period. 
The  limbs  are  fleshy,  the  joints  large,  the  features  insignifi- 
cant. Of  actual  portraiture  one  cannot  detect  a  trace; 
while  every  face  wears  the  same  objectionable  smirk  which 
disfigures  the  Cleopatra  of  Denderah. 

In  the  large  hall,  which  I  have  called  the  hall  of  assem- 
bly, one  is  carried  back  to  the  time  of  the  founder. 
Between  Amenhotep  III  and  Alexander  iEgus  there  lies  a 
great  gulf  of  twelve  hundred  years  ;  and  their  styles  are  as 
widely  separated  as  their  reigns.  The  merest  novice  could 
not  possibly  mistake  the  one  for  the  other.  Nothing  is, 
of  course,  more  common  than  to  find  Egyptian  and 
Graco-Egyptian  work  side  by  side  in  the  same  temple;  but 
nowhere  are  the  distinctive  characteristics  of  each  brought 
into  stronger  contrast  than  in  these  dark  chambers  of 
Luxor.     In  the  sculptures  that  line  the  hall  of  Amenhotep 


THEBES  AND  EARNAK.  129 

we  find  the  pure  lines,  the  severe  and  slender  forms,  the 
characteristic  heads  of  a  period  when  the  art,  having  as 
yet  neither  gained  or  lost  by  foreign  influences,  was  entirely 
Egyptian.  The  subjects  relate  chiefly  to  the  infancy  of 
the  king;  but  it  is  difficult  to  see  anything  properly  by  the 
light  of  a  candle  tied  to  the  end  of  a  stick;  and  here, 
where  the  bas-relief  is  so  low  and  the  wTalls  are  so  high,  it 
is  almost  impossible  to  distinguish  the  details  of  the  upper 
tableaux. 

I  could  make  out,  however,  that  Amen,  Maut,  and  their 
son  Khonsu,  the  three  personages  of  the  Theban  triad,  are 
the  presiding  deities  of  these  scenes;  and  that  they  are  in 
some  way  identified  with  the  fortunes  of  Thothmes  IV, 
his  queen,  and  their  son  Amenhotep  III.  Amenhotep  is 
born,  apparently,  under  the  especial  protection  of  Maut, 
the  divine  mother  ;  brought  up  with  the  youthful  god 
Khonsu  ;  and  received  by  Amen  as  the  brother  and  equal 
of  his  own  divine  son.  I  think  it  was  in  this  hall  that  I 
observed  a  singular  group  representing  Amen  and  Maut  in 
an  attitude  symbolical  perhaps  of  troth-plight  or  marriage. 
They  sit  face  to  face,  the  goddess  holding  in  her  right 
hand  the  left  hand  of  the  god,  while  in  her  left  hand  she 
supports  his  right  elbow.  Their  thrones,  meanwhile,  rest 
on  the  heads  and  their  feet  are  upheld  on  the  hands  of  two 
female  genii.  It  is  significant  that  Rameses  III  and  one 
of  the  ladies  of  his  so-called  hareem  are  depicted  in  the 
same  attitude  in  one  of  the  famous  domestic  subjects 
sculptured  on  the  upper  stories  of  the  pavilion  at  Medinet 
Habu. 

We  saw  this  interesting  temple*  much  too  cursorily  ;  yet 

*  The  ruins  of  the  great  Temple  of  Luxor  have  undergone  a  com- 
plete transformation  since  the  above  description  was  written;  Pro- 
fessor Maspero,  during  the  two  last  years  of  his  official  rule  as  suc- 
cessor to  the  late  Mariette  Pasha,  having  done  for  this  magnificent 
relic  of  Pharaonic  times  what  his  predecessor  did  for  the  more  recent 
temple  of  Edfoo.  The  difficulties  of  carrying  out  this  great  under- 
taking were  so  great  as  to  appear  at  the  first  sight  almost  insur- 
mountable. The  fellaheen  refused  at  first  to  sell  their  houses; 
Mustapha  Aga  asked  the  exorbitant  price  of  £3,000  for  his  consular 
residence,  built  as  it  was  between  the  columns  of  Horemheb,  facing 
the  river;  and  for  no  pecuniary  consideration  whatever  was  it  possi- 
ble to  purchase  the  right  of  pulling  down  the  mosque  in  the  first  great 
court-yard  of  the  temple.  After  twelve  months  of  negotiation,  the 
fellaheen  were  at  last  bought  out  on  tbe  fair  terms,  each  proprietor 
receiving  a  stated  price  for  his  dwelling  and  a  piece  of  land  elsewhere 


130  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUE  NILE. 

we  gave  more  time  to  it  than  the  majority  of  those 
who  year  after  year  anchor  for  days  together  close  under 
its  majestic  columns.  If  the  whole  building  could  be 
transported  bodily  to  some  point  between  Memphis  and 
Siiit,  where  the  river  is  bare  of  ruins,  it  would  be  enthu- 
siastically visited.  Here  it  is  eclipsed  by  the  wonders  of 
Karnak  and  the  western  bank,  and  is  undeservedly 
neglected.  Those  parts  of  the  original  building  which  yet 
remain  are,  indeed,  peculiarly  precious  ;  for  Amenhotep, 
or  Amunoph  III,  was  one  of  the  great  builder-kings  of 
Egypt,  and  we  have  here  one  of  the  few  extant  specimens 
of  his  architectural  work. 

The  Coptic  quarter  of  Luxor  lies  north  of  the  great 
pylon  and  partly  skirts  the  river.  It  is  cleaner,  wider, 
more  airy  than  that  of  the  Arabs.  The  Prussian  consul  is 
a  Copt ;  the  polite  postmaster  is  a  Copt ;  and  in  a  modest 
lodging  built  half  beside  and  half  over  the  Coptic  church 
lives  the  Coptic  bishop.  The  postmaster  (an  ungainly 
youth  in  a  European  suit  so  many  sizes  too  small  that  his 
arms  and  legs  appeared  to  be  sprouting  out  at  the  ends  of 

upon  which  to  build  another.  Some  thirty  families  were  thus  got 
rid  of,  about  eight  or  ten  only  refusing  to  leave  at  any  price.  The 
work  of  demolition  was  begun  in  1885.  In  1886,  the  few 
families  yet  lingering  in  the  ruins  followed  the  example  of  the  rest; 
and  in  the  course  of  that  season  the  temple  was  cleared  from  end  to 
end,  only  the  little  native  mosque  being  left  standing  within  the 
precincts,  and  Mustapha  Aga's  house  on  the  side  next  the  landing- 
place.  Professor  Maspero's  resignation  followed  in  1887,  since  when 
the  work  has  been  carried  on  by  his  successor,  M.  (jrebaut,  with  the 
result  that  in  place  of  a  crowded,  sordid,  unintelligible  labyrinth  of 
mud  huts,  yards,  stables,  alleys  and  dung-heaps,  a  noble  temple, 
second  only  to  that  of  Karnak  for  grandeur  of  design  and  beauty  of 
proportion,  now  marshals  its  avenues  of  columns  and  uplifts  its  sculpt- 
ured architraves  along  the  crest  of  the  ridge  which  here  rises  high 
above  the  eastern  bank  of  the  Nile.  Some  of  those  columns,  now  that 
they  are  cleared  down  to  the  level  of  the  original  pavement,  measure 
ii  ft y  seven  feet  in  the  shaft;  and  in  the  court-yard  built  by  Kameses  11, 
which  measures  one  hundred  and  ninety  feet  by  one  hundred  and 
seventy,  a  series  of  beautiful  colossal  statues  of  that  Pharaoh  in 
highly  polished  red  granite  have  been  discovered,  some  yet  standing 
;'//  situ,  having  been  built  into  the  walls  of  the  mud  structures  and  im- 
bedded (for  who  shall  say  how  many  centuries?)  in  a  sepulcher  of  ig- 
noble clay.  Last  of  all,  Mustapha  Aga,  the  kindly  and  popular  old 
British  consul,  whose  hospitality  will  long  be  remembered  by  English 
travelers,  died  about  twelvemonths  since,  and  the  house  in  which 
he  entertained  so  many  English  visitors,  and  upon  which  he  set  so 
high  a  value,  is  even  now  in  course  of  demolition. 


TUEBES  AND  KARNAE.  131 

his  garments)  was  profuse  in  his  offers  of  service.  He 
undertook  to  forward  letters  to  us  at  Assiian,  Korosko, 
and  Wady  Halfah,  where  postoffices  had  lately  been 
established.  And  he  kept  his  promise,  I  am  bound  to  say, 
with  perfect  punctuality— always  adding  some  queer  little 
complimentary  message  on  the  outer  wrapper,  such  as 
"  I  hope  you  well  my  compliments;"  or  "  Wishes  you  good 
news  pleasant  voyage."  As  a  specimen  of  his  literary 
style  I  copied  the  following  notice,  of  which  it  was  evident 
that  he  was  justly  proud: 

Notice  :  On  the  commandation.  We  Lave  ordered  the  post 
stations  in  lower  Egypt  from  Assint  to  Cartoom.  Belonging  to  the 
Post  Kedevy  Egyptian  in  a  good  order.  Now  to  pay  for  letters 
in  lower  Egypt  as  in  the  upper  Egypt  twice.  Means  that  the  letters 
which  goes  from  here  far  than  Asiiit;  must  pay  for  it  two  piastres  per 
ten  grs.  Also  that  which  goes  far  than  Cartoom.  The  letters  which 
goes  between  Asiut  and  Cartoom;  must  pay  only  one  piastre  per  ten 
grs.  This  and  that  is,  to  buy  stamps  from  the  Post  and  put  it  upon 
the  letter.  Also  if  somebody  wishes  to  send  letters  in  insuranced, 
must  two  piastres  more  for  any  letter.  There  is  orderation  in  the 
Post  to  receive  the  letters  which  goes  to  Europe,  America  and  Asia, 
as  England  France,  Italy  Germany,  Syria,  Constantinople  etc.  Also 
to  send  newspapers  patterns  and  other  things. 

"  LTspettore,"  M.  Adda. 

Luxor  the  1st  January  1874. 

This  young  man  begged  for  a  little  stationery  and  a  pen- 
knife at  parting.  We  had,  of  course,  much  pleasure  in 
presenting  him  with  such  a  modest  testimonial.  We  after- 
ward learned  that  he  levied  the  same  little  tribute  on 
every  dahabeeyah  that  came  up  the  river;  so  I  conclude 
that  he  must  by  this  time  have  quite  an  interesting  collec- 
tion of  small  cutlery. 

From  the  point  where  the  railroad  ends  the  Egyptian 
and  Nubian  mails  are  carried  by  runners  stationed  at  dis- 
tances of  four  miles  all  along  the  route.  Each  man  runs 
his  four  miles,  and  at  the  end  thereof  finds  the  next  man 
ready  to  snatch  up  his  bag  and  start  off  at  full  speed  imme- 
diately. The  next  man  transfers  it  in  like  manner  to  the 
next;  and  so  it  goes  by  day  and  night  without  a  break,  till 
it  reaches  the  first  railway  station.  Each  runner  is  sup- 
posed to  do  his  four  miles  in  half  an  hour,  and  the  mail 
which  goes  out  every  morning  from  Luxor  reaches  Cairo 
in  six  days.  Considering  that  Cairo  was  four  hundred 
and  fifty  miles  away,  that  two  hundred  and  sixty-eight 


132  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

miles  of  this  distance  had  to  be  done  on  foot,  and  that  the 
trains  went  only  once  a  day,  we  thought  this  a  very  credit- 
able speed. 

In  the  afternoon  we  took  donkeys  and  rode  out  to 
Karnak.  Our  way  lay  through  the  bazaar,  which  was  the 
poorest  we  had  yet  seen.  It  consisted  of  only  a  few  open 
sheds,  in  one  of  which,  seated  on  a  mud-built  divan,  cross- 
legged  and  turbaniess  like  a  row  of  tumbler  mandarins,  we 
saw  five  of  our  sailors  under  the  hands  of  the  Luxor  barber. 
He  had  just  lathered  all  five  heads,  and  was  complacently 
surveying  the  effect  of  his  work,  much  as  an  artistic  cook 
might  survey  a  dish  of  particularly  successful  meringues  a 
la  creme.  The  meringues  looked  very  sheepish  when  we 
laughed  and  passed  by. 

Next  came  the  straggling  suburb  where  the  dancing-girls 
most  do  congregate.  These  damsels  in  gaudy  garments  of 
emerald  green,  bright  rose  and  flaming  yellow,  were 
squatting  outside  their  cabins  or  lounging  unveiled  about 
the  thresholds  of  two  or  three  dismal  dens  of  cafes  in  the 
market-place.  They  showed  their  teeth  and  laughed 
familiarly  in  our  faces.  Their  eyebrows  were  painted  to 
meet  on  the  bridge  of  the  nose;  their  eyes  were  blackened 
round  with  kohl;  their  cheeks  were  extravagantly  rouged; 
their  hair  was  gummed,  and  greased,  and  festooned  upon 
their  foreheads,  and  plaited  all  over  in  innumerable  tails. 
Never  before  had  we  seen  anything  in  female  form  so 
hideous.  One  of  these  houris  was  black;  and  she  looked 
quite  beautiful  in  her  blackness,  compared  with  the  paint- 
ing and  plastering  of  her  companions. 

We  now  left  the  village  behind  and  rode  out  across  a 
wide  plain,  barren  and  hillocky  in  some  parts;  overgrown 
in  others  with  coarse  halfeh  grass;  and  dotted  here  and 
there  with  clumps  of  palms.  The  Nile  lay  low  and  out  of 
sight,  so  that  the  valley  seemed  to  stretch  away  uninter- 
ruptedly to  the  mountains  on  both  sides.  Now  leaving  to 
the  left  a  sheik's  tomb,  topped  by  a  little  cupola  and 
shaded  by  a  group  of  tamarisks;  now  following  the  bed  of 
a  dry  watercourse;  now  skirting  shapeless  mounds  that  in- 
dicated the  site  of  ruins  unexplored,  the  road,  uneven  but 
direct,  led  straight  to  Karnak.  At  every  rise  in  the 
ground  we  saw  the  huge  popylons  towering  higher  above 
the  palms.  Once,  but  for  only  a  few  moments,  there 
came  into  sight  a  confused  and  wide-spread  mass  of  ruins, 


T1IEBES  AND  KARNAK.  133 

as  extensive,  apparently,  as  the  ruins  of  a  large  town. 
Then  our  way  dipped  into  a  sandy  groove  bordered  by  mud- 
walls  and  plantations  of  dwarf-palms.  All  at  once  this 
groove  widened,  became  a  stately  avenue  guarded  by  a 
double  file  of  shattered  sphinxes,  and  led  toward  a  lofty 
pylon  standing  up  alone  against  the  sky. 

Close  beside  this  grand  gateway,  as  if  growing  there  on 
purpose,  rose  a  thicket  of  sycamores  and  palms  ;  while 
beyond  it  were  seen  the  twin  pylons  of  a  temple.  The 
sphinxes  were  colossal,  and  measured  about  ten  feet  in 
length.  One  or  two  were  ram-headed.  Of  the  rest — some 
forty  or  fifty  in  number  —  all  were  headless,  some  split 
asunder,  some  overturned,  others  so  mutilated  that  they 
looked  like  torrent- worn  bowlders.  This  avenue  once 
readied  from  Luxor  to  Karnak.  Taking  into  account  the 
distance  (which  is  just  two  miles  from  temple  to  temple) 
and  the  short  intervals  at  which  the  sphinxes  are  placed, 
there  cannot  originally  have  been  fewer  than  five  hundred 
of  them;  that  is  to  say,  two  hundred  and  fifty  on  each  side 
of  the  road. 

Dismounting  for  a  few  minutes,  we  went  into  the 
temple ;  glanced  round  the  open  court-yard  with  its 
colonnade  of  pillars;  peeped  hurriedly  into  some  ruinous 
side-chambers;  and  then  rode  on.  Our  books  told  us  that 
we  had  seen  the  small  temple  of  Barneses  III.  It  would 
have  been  called  large- any  where  but  at  Karnak. 

I  seem  to  remember  the  rest  as  if  it  had  all  happened  in 
a  dream.  Leaving  the  small  temple,  we  turned  toward  the 
river,  skirted  the  mud  walls  of  the  native  village,  and 
approached  the  great  temple  by  way  of  its  main  entrance. 
Here  we  entered  upon  what  had  once  been  another  great 
avenue  of  sphinxes,  ram-headed,  couchant  on  plinths  deep 
cut  with  hieroglyphic  legends,  and  leading  up  from  some 
grand  landing-place  beside  the  Nile. 

And  now  the  towers  that  we  had  first  seen  as  we  sailed 
by  in  the  morning  rose  straight  before  us,  magnificent  in 
ruin,  glittering  to  the  sun,  and  relieved  in  creamy  light 
against  blue  depths  of  sky.  One  was  nearly  perfect;  the 
other,  shattered  as  if  by  the  shock  of  an  earthquake,  was 
still  so  lofty  thau  an  Arab  clambering  from  block  to  block 
midway  of  its  vast  height  looked  no  bigger  than  a  squirrel. 

On  the  threshold  of  this  tremendous  portal  we  again  dis- 
mounted.     Shapeless  crude-brick   mounds,  marking   the 


134  A   THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

limits  of  the  ancient  wall  of  circuit,  reached  far  away  on 
either  side.  An  immense  perspective  of  pillars  and 
pylons  leading  up  to  a  very  distant  obelisk  opened  out 
before  us.  We  went  in,  the  great  walls  towering  up  like 
cliffs  above  our  heads,  and  entered  the  first  court.  Here, 
in  the  midst  of  a  large  quadrangle  open  to  the  sky,  stands 
a  solitary  column,  the  last  of  a  central  avenue  of  twelve, 
some  of  which,  disjointed  by  the  shock,  lie  just  as  they 
fell,  like  skeletons  of  vertebrate  monsters  left  stranded  by 
the  flood. 

Crossing  this  court  in  the  glowing  sunlight,  we  came  to 
a  mighty  doorway  between  two  more  propylons  —  the 
doorway  splendid  with  colored  bas-reliefs;  the  propylons 
mere  cataracts  of  fallen  blocks  piled  up  to  right  and 
left  in  grand  confusion.  The  cornice  of  the  doorway  is 
gone.  Only  a  jutting  fragment  of  the  lintel  stone  remains. 
That  stone,  when  perfect,  measured  forty  feet  and  ten 
inches  across.  The  doorway  must  have  been  full  a 
hundred  feet  in  height. 

We  went  on.  Leaving  to  the  right  a  mutilated  colossus 
engraven  on  arm  and  breast  with  the  cartouche  of  Kameses 
II,  we  crossed  the  shade  upon  the  threshold  and  passed 
into  the  famous  Hypostyle  Hall  of  Seti  I. 

It  is  a  place  that  has  been  much  written  about  and  often 
painted;  but  of  which  no  writing  and  no  art  can  convey 
more  than  a  dwarfed  and  pallid  impression.  To  describe 
it,  in  the  sense  of  building  up  a  recognizable  image  by 
means  of  words,  is  impossible.  The  scale  is  too  vast;  the 
effect  too  tremendous;  the  sense  of  one's  own  dumbness, 
and  littleness,  and  incapacity,  too  complete  and  crushing. 
It  is  a  place  that  strikes  you  into  silence;  that  empties 
you,  as  it  were,  not  only  of  words  but  of  ideas.  Nor  is 
this  a  first  effect  only.  Later  in  the  year,  when  we  came 
back  down  the  river  and  moored  close  by,  and  spent  long 
days  among  the  ruins,  I  found  I  never  had  a  word  to  say 
in  the  great  hall.  Others  might  measure  the  girth  of  those 
tremendous  columns;  others  might  climb  hither  and 
thither,  and  find  out  points  of  view,  and  test  the  accuracy 
of  AYilkinson  and  Mariette;  but  I  could  only  look  and  be 
silent* 

Yet  to  look  is  something,  if  one  can  but  succeed  in 
remembering ;  and  the  great  hall  of  Karnak  is  photo- 
graphed in  some  dark  corner  of  my  brain  for  as  long  as  I 


THEBES  A ND  KA  RNAK.  L35 

have  memory.  I  slmt  my  eyes,  and  see  it  as  if  I  were 
there — not  all  at  once,  as  in  a  picture  ;  but  bit  by  bit,  as 
the  eye  takes  note  of  large  objects  and  travels  over  an  ex- 
tended field  of  vision.  I  stand  once  more  among  those 
mighty  columns,  which  radiate  into  avenues  from  what- 
ever point  one  takes  them.  I  see  them  swathed  in  coiled 
shadows  and  broad  bands  of  light.  I  see  them  sculptured 
and  painted  with  shapes  of  gods  and  kings,  with  blazon- 
ings  of  royal  names,  with  sacrificial  altars,  and  forms  of 
sacred  beasts,  and  emblems  of  wisdom  and  truth.  The 
shafts  of  these  columns  are  enormous.  I  stand  at  the  foot 
of  one — or  of  what  seems  to  be  the  foot;  for  the  original 
pavement  lies  buried  seven  feet  below.  Six  men  standing 
with  extended  arms,  finger-tip  to  finger-tip,  could  barely 
span  it  round.  It  casts  a  shadow  twelve  feet  in  breadth — 
such  a  shadow  as  might  be  cast  by  a  tower.  The  capital 
that  juts  out  so  high  above  my  head  looks  as  if  it  might 
have  been  placed  there  to  support  the  heavens.  It  is 
carved  in  the  semblance  of  a  full-blown  lotus,  and  glows 
with  undying  colors — colors  that  are  still  fresh,  though 
laid  on  by  hands  that  have  been  dust  these  three  thousand 
years  and  more.  It  would  take  not  six  men,  but  a  dozen, 
to  measure  round  the  curved  lip  of  that  stupendous  lily. 

Such  are  the  twelve  central  columns.  The  rest  (one 
hundred  and  twenty-two  in  number)  are  gigantic,  too,  but 
smaller.  Of  the  roof  they  once  supported,  only  the  beams 
remain.  Those  beams  are  stones — huge  monoliths*  carved 
and  painted,  bridging  the  space  from  pillar  to  pillar,  and 
patterning  the  trodden  soil  with  bands  of  shadow. 

Looking  up  and  down  the  central  avenue,  we  see  at  the 

*  The  size  of  these  stones  not  being  given  in  any  of  onr  books,  I 
paced  the  length  of  one  of  the  shadows,  and  (allowing  for  so  much 
more  at  each  end  as  would  be  needed  to  reach  to  the  centers  of  the  two 
capitals  on  which  it  rested)  found  the  block  above  must  measure  at 
least  twenty  five  feet  in  length.  The  measurements  of  the  great  hall 
are,  in  plain  figures,  one  hundred  and  seventy  feet  in  length  by 
three  hundred  and  twenty-nine  in  breadth.  It  contains  one  hundred 
and  thirty-four  columns,  of  which  the  central  twelve  stand  sixty-two 
feet  high  in  the  shaft  (or  about  seventy  with  the  plinth  and  abacus), 
and  measure  thirty-four  feet  six  inches  in  circumference.  The 
smaller  columns  stand  forty-two  feet  five  inches  in  the  shaft,  and 
measure  twenty-eight  feet  in  circumference.  All  are  buried  to  a 
depth  of  between  six  and  seven  feet  in  the  alluvial  deposits  of  between 
three  and  four  thousand  annual  inundations. 


136  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

one  end  a  flame-like  obelisk  ;  at  the  other,  a  solitary  palm 
against  a  background  of  glowing  mountain.  To  right,  to 
left,  showing  transversely  through  long  files  of  columns, 
we  catch  glimpses  of  colossal  bas-reliefs  lining  the  roofless 
walls  in  every  direction.  The  king,  as  usual,  figures  in 
every  group,  and  performs  the  customary  acts  of  worship. 
The  gods  receive  and  approve  him.  Half  in  light,  half  in 
shadow,  these  slender,  fantastic  forms  stand  out  sharp  and 
clear  and  colorless  ;  each  figure  some  eighteen  or  twenty 
feet  in  height.  They  could  scarcely  have  looked  more 
weird  when  the  great  roof  was  in  its  place  and  perpetual 
twilight  reigned.  But  it  is  difficult  to  imagine  the  roof 
on  and  the  sky  shut  out.  It  all  looks  right  as  it  is;  and 
one  feels,  somehow,  that  such  columns  should  have  noth- 
ing between  them  and  the  infinite  blue  depths  of  heaven. 

The  great  central  avenue  was,  however,  sufficiently 
lighted  by  means  of  a  double  row  of  clerestory  windows, 
some  of  which  are  yet  standing.  Certain  writers  have 
suggested  that  they  may  have  been  glazed;  but  this  seems 
improbable  for  two  reasons.  Firstly,  because  one  or  two 
of  these  huge  window-frames  yet  contain  the  solid  stone 
gratings  which  in  the  present  instance  seem  to  have  done 
duty  for  a  translucent  material;  and,  secondly,  because  we 
have  no  evidence  to  show  that  the  early  Egyptians,  though 
familiar  since  the  days  of  Cheops  with  the  use  of  the  blow- 
pipe, ever  made  glass  in  sheets,  or  introduced  it  in  this 
way  into  their  buildings. 

How  often  has  it  been  written,  and  how  often  must  it 
be  repeated,  that  the  great  hall  at  Karnak  is  the  noblest 
architectural  work  ever  designed  and  executed  by  human 
hands  ?  One  writer  tells  us  that  it  covers  four  times  the 
area  occupied  by  the  cathedral  of  Notre  Dame  in  Paris. 
Another  measures  it  against  St.  Peter's.  All  admit  their 
inability  to  describe  it;  yet  all  attempt  the  description. 
To  convey  a  concrete  image  of  the  place  to  one  who  has 
not  seen  it,  is,  however,  as  I  have  already  said,  impossible. 
If  it  could  be  likened  to  this  place  or  that,  the  task  would 
not  be  so  difficult;  but  there  is,  in  truth,  no  building  in 
the  wide  world  to  compare  with  it.  The  pyramids  are 
more  stupendous.  The  colosseum  covers  more  ground. 
The  parthenon  is  more  beautiful.  Yet  in  nobility  of  con- 
ception, in  vastness  of  detail,  in  majesty  of  the  highest 
order,  the   hall  of  pillars  exceeds   them  every  one.     This 


THEBES  AND  KARNAK.  137 

doorway,  these  columns,  are  the  wonder  of  the  world. 
How  was  that  lintel-stone  raised  ?  How  were  these  capi- 
tals lifted  ?  Entering  among  those  mighty  pillars,  says  a 
recent  observer,  "  you  feel  that  you  have  shrunk  to  the 
dimensions  and  feebleness  of  a  fly."  But  I  think  you  feel 
more  than  that.  You  are  stupefied  by  the  thought  of  the 
mighty  men  who  made  them.  You  say  to  yourself: 
"  There  were  indeed  giants  in  those  days." 

It  may  be  that  the  traveler  who  finds  himself  for  the 
first  time  in  the  midst  of  a  grove  of  Wellingtonia  gigantea 
feels  something  of  the  same  overwhelming  sense  of  awe  and 
wonder;  but  the  great  trees,  though  they  have  taken  three 
thousand  years  to  grow,  lack  the  pathos  and  the  mystery 
that  comes  of  human  labor.  They  do  not  strike  their  roots 
through  six  thousand  years  of  history.  They  have  not 
been  watered  with  the  blood  and  tears  of  millions.*  Their 
leaves  know  no  sounds  less  musical  than  the  singing  of 
birds,  or  the  moaning  of  the  night-wind  as  it  sweeps  over 
the  highlands  of  Calaveros.  But  every  breath  that  wanders 
down  the  painted  aisles  of  Karnak  seems  to  echo  back  the 
sighs  of  those  who  perished  in  the  quarry,  at  the  oar,  and 
under  the  chariot-wheels  of  the  conqueror. 

The  Hypostyle  Hall,  though  built  by  Seti,  the  father  of 
Eameses  II,  is  supposed  by  some  Egyptologists  to  have 
been  planned,  if  not  begun,  by  that  same  Amenhotep  III 
who  founded  the  Temple  of  Luxor  and  set  up  the  famous 
colossi  of  the  plain.  However  this  may  be,  the  cartouches 
so  lavishly  sculptured  on  pillar  and  architrave  contain  no 
names  but  those  of  Seti,  who  undoubtedly  executed  the 
work  en  bloc,  and  of  Barneses,  who  completed  it. 

And  now,  would  it  not  be  strange  if  we  knew  the  name 
and  history  of  the  architect  who  superintended  the  build- 
ing of  this  wondrous  hall,  and  planned  the  huge  doorway 
by  which  it  was  entered,  and  the  mighty  pylons  which  lie 
shattered  on  either  side?  Would  it  not  be  interesting  to 
look  upon  his  portrait  and  see  what  manner  of  man  he 
was?  Well,  the  Egyptian  room  in  the  Glyptothek  museum 
at  Munich  contains  a  statue  found  some  seventy  years  ago 
at  Thebes,  which  almost  certainly  represents  that  man,  and 
is    inscribed    with  his    history.      His   name   was   Bak-en- 

*  It  lias  been  calculated  that  every  stone  of  these  huge  Pharaonic 
temples  cost  at  least  one  human  life. 


138  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Khonsu  (servant  of  Khonsu).  He  sits  upon  the  ground, 
bearded  and  robed,  in  an  attitude  of  meditation.  That  he 
was  a  man  of  unusual  ability  is  shown  by  the  inscriptions 
engraved  upon  the  back  of  the  statue.  These  inscriptions 
record  his  promotion,  step  by  step,  to  the  highest  grade  of 
the  hierarchy.  Having  obtained  the  dignity  of  high  priest 
and  first  prophet  of  Amen  during  the  reign  of  Seti  I, 
he  became  chief  architect  of  the  Thebaicl  under 
Barneses  IT,  and  received  a  royal  commission  to  superin- 
tend the  embellishment  of  the  temples.  When  Eameses 
II  "erected  a  monument  to  his  divine  father  Amen  Ra," 
the  building  thereof  was  executed  under  the  direction  of 
Bak-en-Khousu.  Here  the  inscription,  as  translated  by 
M.  Deveria,  goes  on  to  say  that  "  he  made  the  sacred 
edifice  in  the  upper  gate  of  the  abode  of  Amen.*  Ho 
erected  obelisks  of  granite.  He  made  golden  flagstaff's. 
He  added  very,  very  great  colonnades." 

M.  Deveria  suggests  that  the  Temple  of  Gournah  may 
here  be  indicated;  but  to  this  it  might  be  objected  that 
Gournah  is  situated  in  the  lower  and  not  the  upper  part  of 
Thebes;  that  at  Gournah  there  are  no  great  colonnades 
and  no  obelisks;  and  that,  moreover,  for  some  reason  at 
present  unknown  to  us,  the  erection  of  obelisks  seems  to 
have  been  wholly  confined  to  the  eastern  bank  of  the  Nile. 
It  is,  however,  possible  that  the  works  here  enumerated 
may  not  all  have  been  executed  for  one  and  the  same  tem- 
ple. The  "  sacred  edifice  in  the  upper  gate  of  the  abode 
of  Amen"  might  be  the  Temple  of  Luxor,  which  Rameses 
did  in  fact  adorn  with  the  oidy  obelisks  we  know  to  be 
his  in  Thebes;  the  monument  erected  by  him  to  his  divine 
father  Amen  (evidently  a  new  structure)  would  scarcely 
be  any  other  than  the  Ratnesseum;  while  the  "very,  very 
great  colonnades,"  which  are  expressly  specified  as  addi- 
tions, would  seem  as  if  they  could  only  belong  to  the  Hy- 
postyle  Hall  of  Karnak.  The  question  is  at  all  events  in- 
teresting; and  it  is  pleasant  to  believe  that  in  the  Munich 
statue  we  have  not  only  a  portrait  of  one  who  at  Karnak 
played  the  part  of  Michael  Angelo  to  some  foregone  and 

*  i.  e.  Per  Amen,  or  Pa- Amen ;  one  of  the  ancient  names  of 
Thebes,  which  was  the  city  especially  dedicated  to  Amen.  Also  Apt, 
or  Abot,  or  Apetou,  by  some  ascribed  to  an  Indo-Germanic  root 
signifying  abode.  Another  name  for  Thebes,  and  probably  the  one 
most  in  use,  was  Uas. 


THEBES  AND  KARNAK.  139 

forgotten  Bramante,  but  who  was  also  the  Ictinus  of  the 
Ramesseum.  For  the  Ramesseum  is  the  Parthenon  of 
Thebes. 

The  sun  was  sinking  and  the  shadows  were  lengthening 
when,  having  made  the  round  of  the  principal  ruins,  we 
at  length  mounted  our  donkeys  and  turned  toward  Luxor. 
To  describe  all  that  we  saw  after  leaving  the  great  hall 
would  fill  a  chapter.  Huge  obelisks  of  shining  granite — 
some  yet  erect,  some  shattered  and  prostrate;  vast  lengths 
of  sculptured  walls  covered  with  wondrous  battle  subjects, 
sacerdotal  processions,  and  elaborate  chronicles  of  the 
deeds  of  kings  ;  ruined  court-yards  surrounded  by  files  of 
headless  statues;  a  sanctuary  built  all  of  polished  granite, 
and  engraven  like  a  gem;  a  second  hall  of  pillars  dating 
back  to  the  early  days  of  Thothmes  III  ;  labyrinths  of 
roofless  chambers;  mutilated  colossi,  shattered  pylons, 
fallen  columns,  unintelligible  foundations  and  hieroglyphic 
inscriptions  without  end,  were  glanced  at,  passed  by, 
and  succeeded  by  fresh  wonders.  I  dare  not  say  how  many 
small  outlying  temples  we  saw  in  the  course  of  that  rapid 
survey.  In  one  place  we  came  upon  an  undulating  tract 
of  coarse  half  eh  grass,  in  the  midst  of  which,  battered, 
defaced,  forlorn,  sat  a  weird  company  of  green  granite 
sphinxes  and  lioness-headed  basts.  In  another,  we  saw  a 
magnificent  colossal  hawk  upright  on  his  pedestal  in  the 
midst  of  a  bergfall  of  ruins.  More  avenues  of  sphinxes, 
more  pylons,  more  colossi  were  passed  before  the  road  we 
took  in  returning  brought  us  round  to  that  by  which  we 
had  come.  By  the  time  we  reached  the  sheik's  tomb,  it 
was  nearly  dusk.  We  rode  back  across  the  plain,  silent 
and  bewildered.  Have  I  not  said  that  it  was  like  a 
dream  ? 


140  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

THEBES   TO   ASSUAN". 

Hurrying  close  upon  the  sevenest  of  Egyptian  sunsets 
came  a  night  of  storms.  The  wind  got  up  about  ten.  By 
midnight  the  river  was  racing  in  great  waves,  and  our 
dahabeeyah  rolling  at  her  moorings  like  a  ship  at  sea.  The 
sand,  driving  in  furious  gusts  from  the  Libyan  desert, 
dashed  like  hail  against  our  cabin  windows.  Every  moment 
we  were  either  bumping  against  the  bank  or  being  rammed 
by  our  own  felucca.  At  length,  a  little  before  dawn,  a 
huge  slice  of  the  bank  gave  way,  thundering  like  an 
avalanche  upon  our  decks;  whereupon  Reis  Hassan,  being- 
alarmed  for  the  safety  of  the  boat,  hauled  us  up  to  a  little 
sheltered  nook  a  few  hundred  yards  higher.  Taking  it 
altogether,  we  had  not  had  such  a  lively  night  since  leaving 
Benisouef. 

The  lookout  next  morning  was  dismal — the  river  run- 
ning high  in  yeasty  waves  ;  the  boats  all  huddled  together 
under  the  shore  ;  the  western  bank  hidden  in  clouds  of 
sand.  To  get  under  way  was  impossible,  for  the  wind  was 
dead  against  us  ;  and  to  go  anywhere  by  land  was  equally 
out  of  the  question.  Karnak  in  a  sand-storm  would  have 
been  grand  to  see  ;  but  one  would  have  needed  a  diving- 
helmet  to  preserve  eyes  and  ears  from  destruction. 

Toward  afternoon  the  fury  of  the  wind  so  far  subsided 
that  we  were  able  to  cross  the  river  and  ride  to  Medinet 
Habu  and  the  Ramesseum.  As  we  achieved  only  a  passing 
glimpse  of  these  wonderful  ruins,  I  will  for  the  present 
say  nothing  about  them.  We  came  to  know  them  so  well 
hereafter  that  no  mere  first  impression  would  be  worth 
record. 

A  light  but  fitful  breeze  helped  us  on  next  day  as  far  as 
Erment,  the  Ptolemaic  Hermonthis,  once  the  site  of  a 
goodly  temple,  now  of  an  important  sugar  factory.  Here 
we  moored  for  the  night,  and  after  dinner  received  a  visit 


THEBES  TO  ASSUAN.  141 

of  ceremony  from  the  bey — a  tall,  slender,  sharp-featured, 
bright-eyed  man  in  European  dress,  remarkably  dignified 
and  well  bred  —  who  came  attended  by  his  secretary, 
Kawass,  and  pipe-bearer.  Now  the  Bey  of  Erment  is  a 
great  personage  in  these  parts.  He  is  governor  of  the 
town  as  well  as  superintendent  of  the  sugar  factory  ;  holds 
a  military  command;  has  his  palace  and  gardens  close  by, 
and  his  private  steamer  on  the  river;  and  is,  like  most  high 
officials  in  Egypt,  a  Turk  of  distinction.  The  secretary, 
who  was  the  bey's  younger  brother,  wore  a  brown  Inver- 
ness cape  over  a  long  white  petticoat,  and  left  his  slippers 
at  the  saloon  door.  He  sat  all  the  time  with  his  toes 
curiously  doubled  under,  so  that  his  feet  looked  like 
clenched  fists  in  stockings.  Both  gentlemen  wore  tar- 
booshes and  carried  visiting-canes.  The  visiting-cane,  by 
the  way,  plays  a  conspicuous  part  in  modern  Egyptian 
life.  It  measures  about  two  and  a  half  feet  in  length,  is 
tipped  at  both  ends  with  gold  or  silver,  and  is  supposed  to 
add  the  last  touch  of  elegance  to  the  bearer. 

We  entertained  our  guests  with  cotfee  and  lemonade, 
and,  as  well  as  we  could,  with  conversation.  The  bey, 
who  spoke  only  Turkish  and  Arabic,  gave  a  flourishing 
account  of  the  sugar  works,  and  dispatched  his  pipe-bearer 
for  a  bundle  of  fresh  canes  and  some  specimens  of  raw  and 
candied  sugars.  He  said  he  had  an  English  foreman  and 
several  English  workmen,  and  that  for  the  English  as  a 
nation  he  had  the  highest  admiration  and  regard;  but  that 
the  Arabs  "had  no  heads."  To  our  inquiries  about  the 
ruins,  his  replies  were  sufficiently  discouraging.  Of  the 
large  temple  every  vestige  had  long  since  disappeared  ; 
Avhile  of  the  smaller  one  only  a  few  columns  and  part  of 
the  walls  were  yet  standing.  They  lay  out  beyond  the" 
town  and  a  long  way  from  the  river.  There  was  very 
little  to  see.  It  was  all  "sagheer"  (small);  "  moosh- 
taiib"  (bad)  ;  not  worth  the  trouble  of  the  walk.  As  for 
"anteekahs,"  they  were  rarely  found  here,  and  when  found 
were  of  slight  value. 

A  scarab  which  he  wore  in  a  ring  was  then  passed 
round  and  admired.  It  fell  to  our  little  lady's  turn  to 
examine  it  last  and  restore  it  to  the  owner.  But  the 
owner,  with  a  bow  and  a  deprecating  gesture,  would  have 
none  of  it.  The  ring  was  a  toy — a  nothing — the  lady's 
—  his  no  longer.     She  was  obliged  to  accept  it,  however  un- 


142  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

willingly.  To  decline  would  have  been  to  offend.  But  it  was 
the  way  iu  which  the  thing  was  done  that  made  the  charm 
of  this  little  incident.  The  grace,  the  readiness,  the  cour- 
tesy, the  lofty  indifference  of  it,  were  alike  admirable. 
Macready  in  his  best  days  could  have  done  it  with  as 
princely  an  air;  but  even  he  would  probably  have  missed 
something  of  the  oriental  reticence  of  the  Bey  of  Erment. 

He  then  invited  us  to  go  over  the  sugar  factory  (which 
we  declined  on  account  of  the  lateness  of  the  hour),  and 
presently  took  his  leave.  About  ten  minutes  after  came  a 
whole  posse  of  presents — three  large  bouquets  of  roses  for 
the  sittat  (ladies),  two  scarabei,  a  small  funereal  statuette 
in  the  rare  green  porcelain,  and  a  live  turkey.  We  in  re- 
turn sent  a  complicated  English  knife  with  all  sorts  of 
blades,  and  some  pots  of  English  jam. 

The  wind  rose  next  morning  with  the  sun,  and  by  break- 
fast time  we  had  left  Erment  far  behind.  All  that  day  the 
good  breeze  served  us  well.  The  river  was  alive  with  cargo- 
boats.  The  Philaj  put  on  her  best  speed.  The  little  Bag- 
stones  kept  up  gallantly.  And  theFostitt,  a  large  iron  da- 
habeeyah  full  of  English  gentlemen,  kept  us  close  company 
all  the  afternoon.  We  were  all  alike  bound  for  Esneh, 
which  is  a  large  trading  town  and  lies  twenty-six  miles  south 
of  Erment. 

Now,  at  Esneh  the  men  were  to  bake  again.  Great, 
therefore,  was  Rei's  Hassan's  anxiety  to  get  in  first,  secure 
the  oven  and  buy  the  flour  before  dusk.  The  rei's  of  the 
Fostat  and  he  of  the  Bagstones  were  equally  anxious,  and 
for  the  same  reasons.  Our  men,  meanwhile,  were  wild 
with  excitement,  watching  every  manuever  of  the  other 
boats;  hanging  on  to  the  shoghool  like  a  swarm  of  bees; 
and  obeying  the  word  of  command  with  unwonted  alacrity. 
As  we  neared  the  goal  the  race  grew  hotter.  The  honor  of 
the  boats  was  at  stake,  and  the  bread  question  was  for  the 
moment  forgotten.  Finally  all  three  dahabeeyahs  ran  in 
abreast  and  moored  side  by  side  in  front  of  a  row  of  little 
open  cafes,  just  outside  the  town. 

Esneh  (of  which  the  old  Egyptian  civil  name  was  Sni, 
and  the  Roman  name  Latopolis)  stands  high  upon  the 
mounds  of  the  ancient  city.  It  is  a  large  place — as  large, 
apparently,  as  Minieh,  and,  like  Minieh,  it  is  the  capital 
of  a  province.  Here  dragomans  lay  in  provision  of  limes, 
charcoal,  flour  and  live  stock  for  the  Nubian  journey;  and 


THEBES  TO  ASSUAN.  143 

crews  bake  for  the  lust  time  before  their  return  to  Egypt. 
For  in  Nubia  food  is  scarce  and  prices  are  high,  and  there 
are  no  public  ovens. 

It  was  about  five  o'clock  on  a  market  day  when  we 
reached  Esneh  and  the  market  was  not  yet  over.  Going 
up  through  the  usual  labyrinth  of  windowless  mud-alleys 
where  the  old  men  crouched,  smoking,  under  every  bit  of 
sunny  wall,  and  the  children  swarmed  like  flies,  and  the 
cry  for  backshish  buzzed  incessantly  about  our  ears,  we  came 
to  an  open  space  in  the  upper  part  of  the  town,  and  found  our- 
selves all  at  once  in  the  midst  of  the  market.  Here  were 
peasant-folk  selling  farm  produce  ;  stall-keepers  displaying 
combs,  looking-glasses,  gaudy  printed  handkerchiefs  and 
cheap  bracelets  of  bone  and  colored  glass;  camels  lying  at 
ease  and  snarling  at  every  passer-by;  patient  donkeys;  own- 
erless dogs;  veiled  women;  blue  and  black  robed  men;  and 
all  the  common  sights  and  sounds  of  a  native  market.  Here 
too,  we  found  Reis  Hassan  bargaining  for  flour,  Talhemy 
haggling  with  a  charcoal  dealer;  and  the  M.  B.'s  buying 
turkeys  and  geese  for  themselves  and  a  huge  store  of  to- 
bacco for  their  crew.  Most  welcome  sight  of  all,  however, 
was  a  dingy  chemist's  shop,  about  the  size  of  a  sentry-box, 
over  the  door  of  which  was  suspended  an  Arabic  inscrip- 
tion; while  inside,  robed  all  in  black,  sat  a  lean  and 
grizzled  Arab,  from  whom  we  bought  a  big  bottle  of  rose- 
water  to  make  eye-lotion  for  L 's   ophthalmic  patients. 

Meanwhile  there  was  a  temple  to  be  seen  at  Esneh;  and 
this  temple,  as  we  had  been  told,  was  to  be  found  close 
against  the  market-place.  We  looked  round  in  vain,  how- 
ever, for  any  sign  of  pylon  or  portico.  The  chemist  said 
it  was  "  kureiyib,"  which  means  "near  by."  A  camel- 
driver  pointed  to  a  dilapidated  wooden  gateway  in  a  recess 
between  two  neighboring  houses.  A  small  boy  volunteered 
to  lead  the  way.  We  were  greatly  puzzled.  We  had  ex- 
pected to  see  the  temple  towering  above  the  surrounding 
houses,  as  at  Luxor,  and  could  by  no  means  understand 
how  any  large  building  to  which  that  gateway  might  give 
access  should  not    be  visible  from  without. 

The  boy,  however,  ran  and  thumped  upon  the  gate  and 
shouted  "Abbas!  Abbas  !"  Mehemet  Ali,  who  was  doing 
escort,  added  some  thundering  blows  with  his  staff  and  a 
little  crowd  gathered,  but  no  Abbas  came. 

The  by-standers,  as  usual,  were  liberal  with  their  advice; 


144  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

recommending  the  boy  to  climb  over  and  the  sailor  to 
knock  louder  and  suggesting  that  Abbas  the  absent  might 
possibly  be  found  in  a  certain  neighboring  cafe.  At 
length  I  somewhat  impatiently  expressed  my  opinion  that 
there  was  "Mafeesh  Birbeh"(no  temple  at  all);  where- 
upon a  dozen  voices  were  raised  to  assure  me  that  the  Bir- 
beh  was  no  myth — that  it  was  "kebir'  (big) — that  it  was 
"kwy-ees"  (beautiful) — and  that  all  the  "Ingleez"  came 
to  see  it. 

In  the  midst  of  the  clamor,  however,  and  just  as  we  are 
about  to  turn  away  in  despair,  the  gate  creaks  open  ;  the 
gentlemen  of  the  Fostat  troop  out  in  puggaries  and  knick- 
erbockers; and  we  are  at  last  admitted. 

This  is  what  we  see — a  little  yard  surrounded  by  mud 
walls;  at  the  farther  end  of  the  yard  a  dilapidated  door- 
way; beyond  the  doorway,  a  strange-looking,  stupendous 
mass  of  yellow  limestone  masonry,  long  and  low  and  level 
and  enormously  massive.  A  few  steps  farther  and  this 
proves  to  be  the  curved  cornice  of  a  mighty  temple — a 
temple  neither  ruined  nor  defaced,  but  buried  to  the  chin 
in  the  accumulated  rubbish  of  a  score  of  centuries.  This 
part  is  evidently  the  portico.  We  stand  close  under  a  row 
of  huge  capitals.  The  columns  that  support  them  are 
buried  beneath  our  feet.  The  ponderous  cornice  juts  out 
above  our  heads.  From  the  level  on  which  we  stand  to  the 
top  of  that  cornice  may  measure  about  twenty-five  feet.  A 
high  mud  wall  runs  parallel  to  the  whole  width  of  the 
facade,  leaving  a  passage  of  about  twelve  feet  in  breadth 
between  the  two.  A  low  mud  parapet  and  a  hand- 
rail reach  from  capital  to  capital.  All  beyond  is  vague, 
cavernous,  mysterious — a  great  shadowy  gulf,  in  the  midst 
of  which  dim  ghosts  of  many  columns  are  darkly  visible. 
From  an  opening  between  two  of  the  capitals  a  flight  of 
brick  steps  leads  down  into  a  vast  hall  so  far  below  "the 
surface  of  the  outer  world,  so  gloomy,  so  awful,  that  it 
might  be  the  portico  of  Hades. 

Going  down  these  steps  we  come  to  the  original  level  of 
the  temple.  We  tread  the  ancient  pavement.  We  look 
np  to  the  massive  ceiling,  recessed  and  sculptured  and 
painted,  like  the  ceiling  at  Denderah.  We  could  almost 
believe,  indeed,  that  we  are  again  standing  in  the  portico 
of  Denderah.  The  number  of  columns  is  the  same.  The 
arrangement   of   the   intercolumnar   screen   is   the  same. 


THEBES  TO  A8SUAN.  145 

The  general  effect  and  the  main  features  of  the  plan  are 
the  same.  In  some  respects,  however,  Esneh  is  even  more 
striking.  The  columns,  though  less  massive  than  those  of 
Denderah,  are  more  elegant  and  look  loftier.  Their  shafts 
are  covered  with  figures  of  gods  and  emblems  and  lines  of 
hieroglyphed  inscription,  all  cut  in  low  relief.  Their  cap- 
itals, in  place  of  the  huge  draped  Hathor-heads  of  Den- 
derah, are  studied  from  natural  forms — from  the  lotus- 
lily,  the  papyrus-blossom,  the  plumy  date-palm.  The 
wall-sculpture,  however,  is  inferior  to  that  at  Denderah 
and  immeasurably  inferior  to  the  wall-sculpture  at  Karnak. 
The  figures  are  of  the  meanest  Ptolemaic  type  and  all  of 
one  size.  The  inscriptions,  instead  of  being  grouped 
wherever  there  happened  to  be  space  and  so  producing  the 
richest  form  of  wall  decoration  ever  devised  by  man,  are 
disposed  in  symmetrical  columns,  the  effect  of  which,  when 
compared  with  the  florid  style  of  Karnak,  is  as  the  method- 
ical neatness  of  an  engrossed  deed  to  the  splendid  freedom 
of  an  illuminated  manuscript. 

The  steps  occupy  the  place  of  the  great  doorway.  The 
jambs  and  part  of  the  cornice,  the  intercolumnar  screen, 
the  shafts  of  the  columns  under  whose  capitals  we  came  in, 
are  all  there,  half-projecting  from  and  half-imbedded  in 
the  solid  mound  beyond.  The  light,  however,  comes  in 
from  so  high  up  and  through  so  narrow  a  space,  that  one's 
eyes  need  to  become  accustomed  to  the  darkness  before  any 
of  these  details  can  be  distinguished.  Then,  by  degrees, 
forms  of  deities  familiar  and  unfamiliar  emerge  from  the 
gloom. 

The  temple  is  dedicated  to  Knum*or  Kneph,  the  soul  of 

*  Knuni  was  one  of  the  primordial  gods  of  the  Egyptian  cosmogony; 
the  divine  potter;  he  who  fashioned  man  from  the  clay  and  breathed 
into  him  the  breath  of  life.  He  is  sometimes  represented  in  the  act 
of  fashioning  the  first  man,  or  that  mysterious  egg  from  which  not 
only  man  but  the  universe  proceeded,  by  means  of  the  ordinary  pot- 
ter's wheel.  Sometimes  also  he  is  depicted  in  his  boat,  moving  upon 
the  face  of  the  waters  at  the  dawn  of  creation.  About  the  time  of 
the  twentieth  dynasty,  Knuni  became  identified  with  Ra.  He  also 
was  identified  with  Amen,  and  was  worshiped  in  the  great  oasis  in 
the  Greek  period  as  Amen-Knum.  He  is  likewise  known  as  "  The 
Soul  of  the  Gods,"  and  in  this  character,  as  well  as  in  his  solar  char- 
acter, he  is  represented  with  the  head  of  a  ram,  or  in  the  form  of  a 
ram.  Another  of  his  titles  is  "  The  Maker  of  Gods  and  Men."  Knum 
was  also  one  of  the  gods  of  the  cataract,  and  chief  of  the  Triad  wor- 
shiped at  Elephantine.  An  inscription  at  Phila?  styles  him  "Maker 
of  all  that  is,  Creator  of  all  beings,  First  existent,  the  Father  of 
fathers,  the  Mother  of  mothers. " 


146  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  world,  whom  we  now  see  for  the  first  time.  He  is 
ram-headed  and  holds  in  his  hand  the  "ankh,"  or  emblem 
of  life.  Another  new  acquaintance  is  Bes,*  the  grotesque 
god  of  mirth  and  jollity. 

Two  singular  little  erections,  built  in  between  the 
columns  to  right  and  left  of  the  steps,  next  attract  onr  at- 
tention. They  are  like  stone  sentry-boxes.  Each  is  in 
itself  complete,  with  roof,  sculptured  cornice,  doorway, 
and,  if  I  remember  rightly,  a  small  square  window  in  the 
side.  The  inscriptions  upon  two  similar  structures,  in  the 
portico  at  Edfu  show  that  the  right-hand  closet  contained, 
the  sacred  books  belonging  to  the  temple,  while  in  the 
closet  to  the  left  of  the  main  entrance  the  king  underwent 
the  ceremony  of  purification.  It  may  therefore  be  taken 
for  granted  that  these  at  Esneh  were  erected  for  the  same 
purposes. 

And  now  we  look  around  for  the  next  hall — and  look  in 
vain.  The  doorway  which  should  lead  to  it  is  walled  up. 
The  portico  was  excavated  by  Mohammed  Ali  in  1842;  not 
in  any  spirit  of  antiquarian  zeal,  bnt  in  order  to  provide  a 
safe  underground  magazine  for  gunpowder.  Up  to  that 
time,  as  may  be  seen  by  one  of  the  illustrations  to  Wilkin- 
son's "  Thebes  and  General  View  of  Egypt,"  the  interior  was 
choked  to  within  a  few  feet  of  the  capitals  of  the  columns, 
and  used  as  a  cotton-store.  Of  the  rest  of  the  building 
nothing  is  known;  nothing  is  visible.  It  is  as  large,  prob- 
ably, as  Denderah  or  Edfu.  and  in  as  perfect  preservation. 
So,  at  least,  says  local  tradition;  but  not  even  local  tradi- 
tion can  point  out  to  what  extent  it  underlies  the  founda- 
tions of  the  modern  houses  that  swarm  above  its  roof.  An 
inscription  first  observed  by  Champollion  states  that  the 
sanctuary  was  built  by  Thothmes  III.  Is  that  antique 
sanctuary  still  there?  Has  the  temple  grown  step  by  step 
under  the  hands  of  successive  kings,  as  at  Luxor?  Or  has 
it  been  re-edi6ed  ab  ovo,  as  at  Denderah?  These  are 
"  puzzling  questions,"  only  to  be  resolved  by  the  demolition 
of  a  quarter  of  the   town.     Meanwhile  what  treasures  of 

*  Bes.  "  La  culta  de  Bes  parait  gtre  une  iinportation  Asiatique. 
Quelquefois  le  dieu  est  arme  d'une  epee  qu'il  brandit  au-dessus  de 
sa  tSte;  dans  ce  role,  il  senible  le  dieu  des  combats.  Plus  souvent 
c'est  le  dieu  ce  la  danse,  de  la  musique,  des  plaisirs." — Mariette 
Bey. 


THEBES  TO  ASS U AN.  147 

sculptured  history,  what  pictured  chambers,  what  buried 
bronzes  and  statues  may  here  await  the  pick  of  the  ex- 
cavator ! 

All  next  day,  while  the  men  were  baking,  the  writer  sat 
in  a  corner  of  the  outer  passage  and  sketched  the  portico 
of  the  temple.  The  sun  rose  upon  the  one  horizon  and  set 
upon  the  other  before  that  drawing  was  finished;  yet  for 
scarcely  more  than  one  hour  did  it  light  up  the  front  of 
the  temple.  At  about  half-past  nine  a.m.  it  first  caught 
the  stoue  fillet  at  the  angle.  Then,  one  by  one,  each 
massy  capital  became  outlined  with  a  thin  streak  of  gold. 
As  this  streak  widened  the  cornice  took  fire,  and  presently 
the  whole  stood  out  in  light  against  the  sky.  Slowly  then, 
but  quite  preceptibly,  the  sun  traveled  across  the  narrow 
space  overhead  ;  the  shadows  became  vertical ;  the  light 
changed  sides;  and  by  ten  o'clock  there  was  shade  for  the 
remainder  of  the  day.  Toward  noon,  however,  the  sun 
being  then  at  its  highest  and  the  air  transfused  with  light, 
the  inner  columns,  swallowed  up  till  now  in  darkness,  be- 
came illuminated  with  a  wonderful  reflected  light,  and 
glowed  from  out  the  gloom  like  pillars  of  fire. 

Never  to  go  on  shore  without  an  escort  is  one  of  the 
rules  of  Nile  life,  and  Salame  has  by  this  time  become  my 
exclusive  property.  He  is  a  native  of  Assuan,  young, 
active,  intelligent,  full  of  fun,  hot-tempered  withal,  and  as 
thorough  a  gentleman  as  I  have  ever  had  the  pleasure  of 
knowing.  For  a  sample  of  his  good-breeding,  take  this 
day  at  Esneh — a  day  which  he  might  have  idled  away  in 
the  bazaars  and  cafes,  and  which  it  must  have  been  dull 
work  to  spend  cooped  up  between  a  mud  wall  and  an  out- 
landish birbeb,  built  by  the  Djinns  who  reigned  before 
Adam.  Yet  Salame  betrays  no  discontent.  Curled  up  in 
a  shady  corner,  he  watches  me  like  a  dog;  is  ready  with  an 
umbrella  as  soon  as  the  sun  comes  round;  and  replenishes 
a  water  bottle  or  holds  a  color  box  as  deftly  as  though  he 
had  been  to  the  manner  born.  At  one  o'clock  arrives  my 
luncheon,  enshrined  in  a  pagoda  of  plates.  Being  too 
busy  to  leave  off  work,  however,  I  put  the  pagoda  aside, 
and  dispatch  Salame  to  the  market,  to  buy  himself  some 
dinner;  for  which  purpuse,  wishing  to  do  the  thing  hand- 
somely, I  present  him  with  the  magnificent  sum  of  two 
silver  piasters,  or  about  five  pence  English.  With  this  he 
contrives  to  purchase  three  or  four  cakes  of  flabby  native 


148  4  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

bread,  a  black-looking  rissole  of  chopped  meat  and  vege- 
tables, and  about  a  pint  of  dried  dates. 

Knowing  this  to  be  a  better  dinner  than  my  friend  gets 
every  day,  knowing  also  that  our  sailors  habitually  eat  at 
noon,  I -am  surprised  to  see  him  leave  these  dainties  un- 
tasted.  In  vain  I  say  "  Bismillah"  (in  the  name  of  God); 
pressing  him  to  eat  in  vocabulary  phrases  eked  out  with 
expressive  pantomine.  He  laughs,  shakes  his  head,  and, 
asking  permission  to  smoke  a  cigarette,  protests  he  is  not 
hungry.  Thus  three  more  hours  go  by.  Accustomed  to 
long  fasting  and  absorbed  in  my  sketch,  I  forget  all  about 
the  pagoda;  and  it  is  past  four  o'clock  when  I  at  length 
set  to  work  to  repair  tissue  at  the  briefest  possible  cost  of 
time  and  daylight.  And  now  the  faithful  Salame  falls  to 
with  an  energy  that  causes  the  cakes,  the  rissole,  the  dates, 
to  vanish  as  if  by  magic.  .Of  what  remains  from  my 
luncheon  he  also  disposes  in  a  trice.  Never,  unless  in  a 
pantomine,  have  I  seen  mortal  man  display  so  prodigious 
an  appetite. 

I  made  Talhamy  scold  him,  by  and  by,  for  this  piece  of 
voluntary  starvation. 

"By  my  prophet!"  said  he,  "am  I  a  pig  or  a  dog,  that 
I  should  eat  when  the  sitt  was  fasting?" 

It  was  at  Esneh,  by  the  way,  that  that  hitherto  undiscov- 
ered curiosity,  an  ancient  Egyptian  coin,  was  offered  to 
me  for  sale.  The  finder  was  digging  for  niter,  and  turned 
it  up  at  an  immense  depth  below  the  mounds  on  the  out- 
skirts of  the  town.  He  volunteered  to  show  the  precise 
spot,  and  told  his  artless  tale  with  child-like  simplicity. 
Unfortunately,  however,  for  the  authenticity  of  this  re- 
markable relic,  it  bore,  together  with  the  familiar  profile 
of  George  IV,  a  superscription  of  its  modest  value,  which 
was  precisely  one  farthing.  On  another  occasion,  when 
we  were  making  our  long  stay  at  Luxor,  a  colored  glass 
button  of  honest  Birmingham  make  was  brought  to  the 
boat  by  a  fellah  who  swore  that  he  had  himself  found  it 
upon  a  mummy  in  the  tombs  of  the  queens  at  Kurnet  Mur- 
raee.  The  same  man  came  to  my  tent  one  day  when  I  was 
sketching,  bringing  with  him  a  string  of  more  that  doubt- 
ful scarabs — all  veritable  "anteekahs,"  of  course,  and  all 
backed  up  with  undeniable  pedigrees. 

"  La,  la  [no,  no] !  bring  me  no  more  anteekahs,"  I  said, 
gravely.     "  They  are  old  and  worn  out,  and  cost  much 


THEBES  TO  ASSUAN.  149 

money.  Have  you  no  imitation  scarabs,  new  and  service- 
able, that  one  might  wear  without  the  fear  of  breaking 
them?" 

"These  are  imitations.  0  sitt!"  was  the  ready  answer. 

"  But  you  told  me  a  moment  ago  they  were  genuine 
anteekahs." 

"  That  was  because  I  thought  the  sitt  wanted  to  buy 
anteekahs,"  he  said,  quite  shamelessly. 

"See  now,"  I  said,  "if  you  are  capable  of  selling  me 
new  things  for  old,  how  can  I  be  sure  that  you  would  not 
sell  me  old  things  for  new?" 

To  this  he  replied  by  declaring  that  he  had  made  the 
scarabs  himself.  Then,  fearing  I  should  not  believe  him, 
he  pulled  a  scrap  of  coarse  paper  from  his  bosom,  borrowed 
one  of  my  pencils,  and  drew  an  asp,  an  ibis,  and  some 
other  common  hieroglyphic  forms,  with  tolerable  dexterity. 

"Now  you  believe?"  he  asked,  triumphantly. 

"I  see  that  you  can  make  birds  and  snakes,"  I  replied; 
"  but  that  neither  proves  that  you  can  cut  scarabs,  nor 
that  these  scarabs  are  new." 

"  Nay,  sitt,"  he  protested,  "  I  made  them  with  these 
hands.  I  made  them  but  the  other  day.  By  Allah!  they 
cannot  be  newer." 

Here  Talhamy  interposed. 

"  In  that  case,"  he  said,  "  they  are  too  new,  and  will 
crack  before  a  month  is  over.  The  sitt  would  do  better 
to  buy  some  that  are  well  seasoned." 

Our  honest  fellah  touched  his  brow  and  breast. 

"Now  in  strict  truth,  0  dragoman!"  he  said,  with  an 
air  of  the  most  engaging  candor,  "these  scarabs  were 
made  at  the  time  of  the  inundation.  They  are  new;  but 
not  too  new.  They  are  thoroughly  seasoned.  If  they 
crack,  you  shall  denounce  me  to  the  governor,  and  I  will 
eat  stick  for  them!" 

Now  it  has  always  seemed  to  me  that  the  most  curious 
feature  in  this  little  scene  was  the  extraordinary  simplicity 
of  the  Arab.  With  all  his  cunning,  with  all  his  dis- 
position to  cheat,  he  suffered  himself  to  be  turned  inside- 
out  as  unsuspiciously  as  a  baby.  It  never  occurred  to  him 
that  his  untruthfulness  was  being  put  to  the  test,  or  that 
he  was  committing  himself  more  and  more  deeply  with 
every  word  he  uttered.  The  fact  is,  however,  that  the 
fellah  is  half  a  savage.      Notwithstanding  his   mendacity 


150  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

(unci  it  must  be  owned  that  lie  is  the  most  brilliant  liar 
under  heaven),  he  remains  a  singularly  transparent  piece 
of  humanity ,  easily  amused,  easily  deceived,  easily  angered, 
easily  pacified.  He  steals  a  little,  cheats  a  little,  lies  a 
great  deal;  but  on  the  other  hand  he  is  patient,  hospitable, 
affectionate,  trustful.  He  suspects  no  malice  and  bears 
none.  He  commits  no  great  crimes.  He  is  incapable  of 
oevenge.  In  short,  his  good  points  outnumber  his  bad 
cnes;  and  what  man  or  nation  need  hope  for  a  much  better 
rharacter? 

To  generalize  in  this  way  may  seem  like  presumption  on 
the  part  of  a  passing  strauger;  yet  it  is  more  excusable  as 
regards  Egypt  than  it  would  be  of  any  other  equally 
accessible  country.  In  Europe,  and  indeed  in  most  parts  of 
the  east,  one  sees  too  little  of  the  people  to  be  able  to  form 
an  opinion  about  them;  but  it  is  not  so  on  the  Nile.  Cut 
off  from  hotels,  from  railways,  from  Europeanized  cities, 
you  are  brought  into  continual  intercourse  with  natives. 
The  sick  who  come  to  you  for  medicines,  the  country 
gentlemen  and  government  officials  who  visit  you  on  board 
your  boat  and  entertain  you  on  shore,  your  guides,  your 
donkey  boys,  the  very  dealers  who  live  by  cheating  you, 
furnish  endless  studies  of  character,  and  teach  you  more 
of  Egyptian  life  than  all  the  books  of  Nile-travel  that  were 
ever  written. 

Then  your  crew,  part  Arab,  part  Nubian,  are  a  little 
world  in  themselves.  One  man  was  born  a  slave,  and  will 
carry  the  dealer's  brand-marks  to  his  grave.  Another 
has  two  children  in  Miss  Whateley's  school  at 
Cairo.  A  third  is  just  married,  and  has  left  his  young 
wife  sick  at  home.  She  may  be  dead  by  the  time  he  gets 
back,  and  we  will  hear  no  news  of  her  meanwhile.  So 
with  them  all.  Each  has  his  simple  story — a  story  in 
which  the  local  oppressor,  the  dreaded  conscription,  and 
the  still  more  dreaded  corvee,  form  the  leading  incidents. 
The  poor  fellows  are  ready  enough  to  pour  out  their  hopes, 
their  wrongs,  their  sorrows.  Through  sympathy  with 
these,  one  comes  to  know  the  men;  and  through  the  men, 
the  nation.  For  the  life  of  the  beled  repeats  itself  with 
but  little  variation  wherever  the  Nile  flows  and  the  khe- 
dive  rules.  The  characters  are  the  same;  the  incidents  are 
the  same.     It  is  only  the  mise  en  scene  which  varies. 

And  thus  it  comes  to  pass  that  the  mere    traveler  who 


THEBES  TO  ASS U AN.  151 

spends  but  half  a  year  on  the  Nile  may,  if  he  takes  an  in- 
terest in  Egypt  and  the  Egyptians,  learn  more  of  both  in 
that  short  time  than  would  be  possible  in  a  country  less 
singularly  narrowed  in  all  ways — politically,  socially,  geo- 
graphically. 

And  this  reminds  me  that  the  traveler  on  the  Nile 
really  sees  the  whole  land  of  Egypt.  Going  from  point  to 
point  in  other  countries,  one  follows  a  thin  line  of  road, 
railway,  or  river,  leaving  wide  tracts  unexplored  on  either 
side:  but  there  are  few  places  in  Middle  or  Upper  Egypt, 
and  none  at  all  in  Nubia,  where  one  may  not,  from  any 
moderate  height,  survey  the  entire  face  of  the  country 
from  desert  to  desert.  It  is  well  to  do  this  frequently.  It 
helps  one,  as  nothing  else  can  help  one,  to  an  understand- 
ing of  the  wonderful  mountain  waste  through  which  the 
Nile  has  been  scooping  its  way  for  uncounted  cycles.  And 
it  enables  one  to  realize  what  a  mere  slip  of  alluvial  de- 
posit is  this  famous  land  which  is  "  the  gift  of  the  river." 

A  dull  gray  morning;  a  faint  and  fitful  breeze  carried  us 
slowly  on  our  way  from  Esneh  to  Edfu.  The  new  bread 
— a  heavy  boat-load  when  brought  on  board — lay  in  a  huge 
heap  at  the  end  of  the  upper  deck.  It  took  four  men  one 
whole  day  to  cut  it  up.  Their  incessant  gabble  drove  us 
nearlv  distracted. 

"Uskut,  Khaleefeh  !  Uskut,  Ali  !"  ("Silence,  Khalee- 
feh!  Silence,  Ali!")  Talhamy  would  say  from  time  to  time. 
"  You  are  not  on  your  own  deck.  The  Howadji  can 
neither  read  nor  write  for  the  clatter  of  your  tongues." 

And  then,  for  about  a  minute  and  a  half,  they  would  be 
quiet. 

But  you  could  as  easily  keep  a  monkey  from  chattering 
as  an  Arab.  Our  men  talked  incessantly;  and  their  talk 
was  always  about  money.  Listen  to  them  when  we  might, 
such  words  as  "khamsa  guriish "  (five  piasters),  "  nus 
riyal"  (half-a-dollar),  "ethneen  shilling"  (two  shillings), 
were  perpetually  coming  to  the  surface.  We  never  could 
understand  how  it  was  that  money,  which  played  so  small  a 
part  in  their  lives,  should  play  so  large  a  part  in  their 
conversation. 

It  was  about  midday  when  we  passed  El  Kab,  the  ancient 
Eileithyias.  A  rocky  valley  narrowing  in  hind;  a  sheik's 
tomb  on  the  mountain-ridge  above;  a  few  clumps  of  date- 
palms  ;    some  remains  6f  what  looked  like  a  long,  crude 


152  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

brick  wall  running  at  right  angles  to  the  river;  and  an 
isolated  mass  of  hollowed  limestone  rock  left  standing  ap- 
parently  in  the  midst  of  an  exhausted  quarry,  were  all  we 
saw  of  El  Kab  as  the  dahabeeyah  glided  by. 

And  now,  as  the  languid  afternoon  wears  on,  the  propy- 
lons  of  Edfu  loom  out  of  the  misty  distance.  AVe  have 
been  looking  for  them  long  enough  before  they  come  into 
sight — calculating  every  mile  of  the  way;  every  minute  of 
the  daylight.  The  breeze,  such  as  it  was,  has  dropped 
now.  The  river  stretches  away  before  us,  smooth  and  oily 
as  a  pond.  Nine  of  the  men  are  tracking.  Will  they  pull 
us  to  Edfu  in  time  to  see  the  temple  before  nightfall  ? 

Eei's  Hassan  looks  doubtful;  but  takes  refuge  as  usual 
in  "Inshallah  !"  ("God  willing").  Talhamy  talks  of  land- 
ing a  sailor  to  run  forward  and  order  donkeys.  Mean- 
while the  Philas  creeps  lazily  on;  the  sun  declines  unseen 
behind  a  filmy  veil;  and  those  two  shadowy  towers,  rising 
higher  and  ever  higher  on  the  horizon,  look  gray,  and 
ghostly,  and  far  distant  still. 

Suddenly  the  trackers  stop,  look  back,  shout  to  those  on 
board,  and  begin  drawing  the  boat  to  shore.  Rei's  Hassan 
points  joyously  to  a  white  streak  breaking  across  the 
smooth  surface  of  the  river  about  half  a  mile  behind.  The 
Fostat's  sailors  are  already  swarming  aloft — the  Bagstones' 
trackers  are  making  for  home — our  own  men  are  prepar- 
ing to  fling  in  the  rope  and  jump  on  board  as  the  Philae 
nears  the  bank. 

For  the  capricious  wind,  that  always  springs  up  when  we 
don't  want  it,  is  coming! 

And  now  the  Fostat,  being  hindmost,  flings  out  her  big 
sail  and  catches  the  first  puff;  the  Bagstones'  turn  comes 
next;  the  Philse  shakes  her  wings  free  and  shoots  ahead; 
and  in  fewer  minutes  than  it  takes  to  tell,  we  are  all  three 
scudding  along  before  a  glorious  breeze. 

The  great  towers  that  showed  so  far  away  half  an  hour 
ago  are  now  close  at  hand.  There  are  palm-woods  about 
their  feet,  and  clustered  huts,  from  the  midst  of  which 
they  tower  up  against  the  murky  sky  magnificently.  Soon 
they  are  passed  and  left  behind,  and  the  gray  twilight 
takes  them  and  we  see  them  no  more.  Then  night  comes 
on,  cold  and  starless;  yet  not  too  dark  for  going  as  fast  as 
wind  and  canvas  will  carry  us. 

And  now,  with  that  irrepressible  instinct  of  rivalry  that 


THEBES  TO  ASSUAN.  153 

fles}i — especially  flesh  on  the  Nile — is  heir  to,  we  quickly 
turn  our  good  going  into  a  trial  of  speed.  It  is  no  longer 
a  mere  business-like  devotion  to  the  matter  in  hand.  It  is 
a  contest  for  glory.  It  is  the  Philae  against  the  Fostat,  and 
the  Bagstones  against  both.  In  plain  English,  it  is  a  race. 
The  two  leading  dahabeeyahs  are  pretty  equally  matched. 
The  Philae  is  larger  than  the  Fostat;  but  the  Fostat  has  a 
bigger  mainsail.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Fostat  is  an  iron 
boat;  whereas  the  Philae,  being  wooden-built,  is  easier  to 
pole  off  a  sand-bank,  and  lighter  in  hand.  The  Bagstones 
carries  a  capital  mainsail  and  can  go  as  fast  as  either  upon 
occasion.  Meanwhile,  the  race  is  one  of  perpetually  vary- 
ing fortunes.  Now  the  Fostat  shoots  ahead;  now  the 
Philas.  We  pass  and  repass  ;  take  the  wind  out  of  one 
another's  sails;  economize  every  curve;  hoist  every  stitch 
of  canvas,  and,  having  identified  ourselves  with  our  boats, 
are  as  eager  to  win  as  if  a  great  prize  depended  on  it. 
Under  these  circumstances,  to  dine  is  difficult — to  go  to 
bed  superfluous — to  sleep  impossible.  As  to  mooring  for 
the  night,  it  is  not  to  be  thought  of  for  a  moment. 
Having  begun  the  contest,  we  can  no  more  help  going 
than  the  wind  can  help  blowing;  and  our  crew  are  as  keen 
about  winning  as  ourselves. 

As  night  advances,  the  wind  continues  to  rise,  and  our 
excitement  with  it.  Still  the  boats  chase  each  other  along 
the  dark  river,  scattering  spray  from  their  bows  and 
flinging  out  broad  foam-tracks  behind  them.  Their  cabin 
windows,  all  alight  within,  cast  flickering  flames  upon  the 
waves  below.  The  colored  lanterns  at  their  mast-heads, 
orange,  purple  and  crimson,  burn  through  the  dusk-like 
jewels.  Presently  the  mist  blows  off;  the  sky  clears;  the 
stars  come  out;  the  wind  howls;  the  casements  rattle;  the 
tiller  scroops;  the  sailors  shout,  and  race,  and  bang  the 
ropes  about  overhead;  while  we,  sitting  up  in  our  narrow 
berths,  spend  half  the  night  watching  from  our  respective 
windows. 

In  this  way  some  hours  go  by.  Then,  about  three  in  the 
morning,  with  a  shock,  a  recoil,  a  yell  and  a  scuffle,  we  all 
three  rush  headlong  upon  a  sand-bank!  The  men  fly  to 
the  rigging  and  furl  the  flapping  sail.  Some  seize  punting 
poles.  Others,  looking  like  full-grown  imps  of  darkness, 
leap  overboard  and  set  their  shoulders  to  the  work.  A 
strophe  and  antistrophe  of  grunts  are  kept  up  between 


154  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

those  on  deck  and  those  in  the  water.  Finally,  after  some 
ten  minutes'  frantic  struggle,  the  Phila3  slips  off,  leaving 
the  other  two  aground  in  the  middle  of  the  river. 

Toward  morning,  the  noisy  night  having  worn  itself 
away,  we  all  fall  asleep — only  to  be  roused  again  by  Tal- 
hamy's  voice  at  seven,  proclaiming  aloud  that  the  Bag- 
stones  and  Fostat  are  once  more  close  upon  our  heels; 
that  Silsilis  and  Kom  Oinbo  are  passed  and  left  behind; 
that  we  have  already  put  forty-six  miles  between  ourselves 
and  Edfii;  and  that  the  good  wind  is  still  blowing. 

We  are  now  within  fifteen  miles  of  Assuan.  The  Nile  is 
narrow  here,  and  the  character  of  the  scenery  has  quite 
changed.  Our  view  is  bounded  on  the  Arabian  side  by  a 
near  range  of  black  granitic  mountains;  while  on  the 
Libyan  side  lies  a  chain  of  lofty  sand-hills,  each  curiously 
cupped  by  a  crown  of  dark  bowlders.  On  both  banks  the 
river  is  thickly  fringed  with  palms. 

Meanwhile  the  race  goes  on.  Last  night  it  was  sport; 
to-day  it  is  earnest.  Last  night  we  raced  for  glory;  to-day 
we  race  for  a  stake. 

"  A  guinee  for  Reis  Hassan  if  we  get  first  to  Assuan!" 

Reis  Hassan's  eyes  glisten.  No  need  to  call  up  the 
dragoman  to  interpret  between  us.  The  look,  the  tone, 
are  as  intelligible  to  him  as  the  choicest  Arabic;  and  the 
magical  word  "  guinee"  stands  for  a  sovereign  now,  as  it 
stood  for  one-pound-one  in  the  days  of  Nelson  and  Aber- 
crombie.  He  touches  his  head  and  breast ;  casts  a  back- 
ward glance  at  the  pursuing  dahabeeyahs,  a  forward 
glance  in  the  direction  of  Assuan  ;  kicks  off  his  shoes;  ties 
a  handkerchief  about  his  waist;  and  stations  himself  at  the 
top  of  the  steps  leading  to  the  upper  deck.  By  the  light 
in  his  eye  and  the  set  look  about  his  mouth,  Reis  Hassan 
means  winning. 

Now  to  be  first  in  Assuan  means  to  be  first  on  the  gov- 
ernor's list  and  first  up  the  cataract.  And  as  the  passage 
of  the  cataract  is  some  two  or  three  days'  work  this  little 
question  of  priority  is  by  no  means  unimportant.  Not  for 
five  times  the  promised  "  guinee"  would  we  have  the  Fos- 
tat slip  in  first,  and  so  be  kept  waiting  our  turn  on  the 
wrong  side  of  the  frontier. 

Aiid  now,  as  the  sun  rises  higher,  so  the  race  waxes 
hotter.  At  breakfast  time  we  were  fifteen  miles  from 
Assuan.     Now   the  fifteen  miles  have  gone  down  to  ten; 


THEBES  TO  ASSUAN.  155 

and  when  we  reach  yonder  headland  they  will  have 
dwindled  to  seven.  It  is  plain  to  see,  however,  that  as  the 
distance  decreases  between  ourselves  and  Assuan,  so  also  it 
decreases  between  ourselves  and  the  Fostat.  Keis  Hassan 
knows  it.  I  see  him  measuring  the  space  by  his  eye.  I 
see  the  frown  settling  on  his  brow.  He  is  calculating  how 
much  the  Fostat  gains  in  every  quarter  of  an  hour,  and 
how  many  quarters  we  are  yet  distant  from  the  goal.  For 
no  Arab  sailor  counts  by  miles.  He  counts  by  time  and 
by  the  reaches  in  the  river;  and  these  may  be  taken  at  a 
rough  average  of  three  miles  each.  When,  therefore,  our 
captain,  in  reply  to  an  oft-repeated  question,  says  we  have 
yet  two  bends  to  make,  we  know  that  we  are  about  six 
miles  from  our  destination. 

Six  miles — and  the  Fostat  creeping  closer  every  minute! 
Just  now  we  were  all  talking  eagerly;  but  as  the  end  draws 
near,  even  the  sailors  are  silent.  Kei's  Hassan  stands 
motionless  at  his  post,  on  the  lookout  for  shallows.  The 
words  "Shamal — Yemin  "  ("left — right"),  delivered  in  a 
short,  sharp  tone,  are  the  only  sounds  he  utters.  The 
steersman,  all  eye  and  ear,  obeys  him  like  his  hand.  The 
sailors  squat  in  their  places,  quiet  and  alert  as  cats. 

And  now  it  is  no  longer  six  miles,  but  five — no  longer 
five,  but  four.  The  Fostat,  thanks  to  her  bigger  sail,  has 
well-nigh  overtaken  us;  and  the  Bagstones  is  not  more  than 
a  hundred  yards  behind  the  Fostat.  On  we  go,  however, 
past  palm-woods  of  nobler  growth  than  any  we  have  yet 
seen  ;  past  forlorn  homeward-bound  dahabeeyahs  lying-to 
against  the  wind  ;  past  native  boats,  and  riverside  huts, 
and  clouds  of  driving  sand  ;  till  the  corner  is  turned,  and 
the  last  reach  gained,  and  the  minarets  of  Assuan  are  seen 
as  through  a  shifting  fog  in  the  distance.  The  ruined 
tower  crowning  yonder  promontory  stands  over  against  the 
town  ;  and  those  black  specks  midway  in  the  bed  of  the 
river  are  the  first  outlying  rocks  of  the  cataract.  The 
channel  there  is  hemmed  in  between  reefs  and  sand-banks, 
and  to  steer  it  is  difficult  in  even  the  calmest  weather. 
Still  our  canvas  strains  to  the  wind,  and  the  Philse  rushes 
on  full-tilt,  like  a  racer  at  the  hurdles. 

Every  eye  now  is  turned  upon  Rei's  Hassan;  and  Eei's 
Hassan  stands  rigid,  like  a  man  of  stone.  The  rocks  are 
close  ahead — so  close  that  we  can  see  the  breakers  pouring 
over   them   and   the   swirling  eddies  between.     Our  way 


156  A  THOUSAND  MILKS  UP  THE  NILE. 

lies  through  an  opening  between  the  bowlders.  Beyond 
that  opening  the  channel  turns  off  sharply  to  the  left.  It 
is  a  point  at  which  everything  will  depend  on  the  shifting 
of  a  sail.  If  done  too  soon,  we  miss  the  mark;  if  too  late, 
we  strike  upon  the  rocks. 

Suddenly  our  captain  flings  up  his  hand,  takes  the 
stairs  at  a  bound,  and  flies  to  the  prow.  The  sailors 
spring  to  their  feet,  gathering  some  round  the  shoghool, 
and  some  round  the  end  of  the  yard.  The  Fostat  is  up 
beside  us.     The  moment  for  winning  or  losing  is  come. 

And  now,  for  a  couple  of  breathless  seconds,  the  two 
dahabeeyahs  plunge  onward  side  by  side,  making  for  that 
narrow  passage  which  is  only  wide  enough  for  one.  Then 
the  iron  boat,  shaving  the  sand-bank  to  get  a  wider  berth, 
shifts  her  sail  first,  and  shifts  it  clumsily,  breaking  or  let- 
ting go  her  shoghool.  We  see  the  sail  flap  and  the  rope 
fly,  and  all  hands  rushing  to  retrieve  it. 

In  that  moment  Re'is  Hassan  gives  the  word.  The 
Philae  bounds  forward — takes  the  channel  from  under  the 
very  bows  of  the  Fostat — changes  her  sail  without  a  hitch — 
and  dips  right  away  down  the  deep  water,  leaving  her  rival 
hard  and  fast  among  the  shallows. 

The  rest  of  the  way  is  short  and  open.  In  less  than  five 
minutes  we  have  taken  in  our  sail,  paid  Rei's  Hassan  his 
well-earned  guinee,  and  found  a  snug  corner  to  moor  in. 
And  so  ends  our  memorable  race  of  nearly  sixty-eight 
miles  from  Edfu  to  Assuan. 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  \tf 


CHAPTER  X. 

ASSUAN   AND    ELEPHANTINE. 

The  green  Island  of  Elephantine,  which  is  about  a  mile 
in  length,  lies  opposite  Assuan  and  divides  the  Nile  in  two 
channels.  The  Libyan  and  Arabian  deserts — smooth 
amber  sand-slopes  on  the  one  hand;  rugged  granite  cliffs 
on  the  other — come  down  to  the  brink  on  either  side.  On 
the  Libyan  shore  a  sheik's  tomb,  on  the  Arabian  shore  a 
bold  fragment  of  Moorish  architecture  with  ruined  arches 
open  to  the  sky,  crown  two  opposing  heights,  and  keep 
watch  over  the  gate  of  the  cataract.  Just  under  the 
Moorish  ruin,  and  separated  from  the  river  by  a  slip  of 
sandy  beach,  lies  Assuan. 

A  few  scattered  houses,  a  line  of  blank  wall,  the  top  of 
a  minaret,  the  dark  mouths  of  one  or  two  gloomy  alleys, 
are  all  that  one  sees  of  the  town  from  the  mooriug-place 
below.  The  black  bowlders  close  against  the  shore,  some 
of  which  are  superbly  hieroglyphed,  glisten  in  the  sun  like 
polished  jet.*  The  beach  is  crowded  with  bales  of  goods; 
with  camels  laden  and  unladen;  with  turbaned  figures 
coming  and  going;  with  damaged  cargo-boats  lying  up 
high  and  dry,  and  half  heeled  over,  in  the  sun.  Others, 
moored  close  together,  are  taking  in  or  discharging  cargo. 
A  little  apart  from  these  lie  some  three  or  four  dahabee- 
yahs  flying  English,  American,  and  Belgian  flags.  Another 
has  cast  anchor  over  the  way  at  Elephantine.  Small  row- 
boats  cross  and    recross,  meanwhile,  from    shore  to  shore; 

*  "  At  the  cataracts  of  the  great  rivers  Orinoco,  Nile  and  Congo, 
the  syenitic  rocks  are  coated  by  a  black  substance,  appearing  as  if 
they  had  been  polished  with  plumbago.  The  layer  is  of  extreme 
thinness;  and  on  analysis  by  Berzelius  it  was  found  to  consist  of  the 
oxides  of  manganese  and  iron.  .  .  .  The  origin,  however,  of  these 
coatings  of  metallic  oxides,  which  seem  as  if  cemented  to  the  rocks, 
is  not  understood;  and  no  reason,  I  believe,  can  be  assigned  for  their 
thickness  remaining  the  same." — "Journal  of  Researches,"  by 
Charles  Darwin,  chap,  i,  p.  12,  ed.  1845. 


158  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

dogs  bark  ;  camels  snort  and  snarl ;  donkeys  bray;  and 
clamorous  curiosity  dealers  scream,  chatter,  hold  their 
goods  at  arm's  length,  battle  and  implore  to  come  on  board, 
and  are  only  kept  off  the  landing-plank  by  means  of  two 
big  sticks  in  the  hands  of  two  stalwart  sailors. 

The  things  offered  for  sale  at  Assuan  are  altogether  new 
and  strange.  Here  are  no  scarabaei,  no  funerary  statuettes, 
no  bronze  or  porcelain  gods,  no  relics  of  a  past  civilization; 
but,  on  the  contrary,  such  objects  as  speak  only  of  a  rude 
and  barbarous  present — ostrich  eggs  and  feathers,  silver 
trinkets  of  rough  Nubian  workmanship,  spears,  bows,  ar- 
rows, bucklers  of  rhinoceros  hide,  ivory  bracelets,  cut 
solid  from  the  tusk,  porcupine  quills,  baskets  of  stained 
and  plaited  reeds,  gold  nose  rings  and  the  like.  One  old 
woman  has  a  Nubian  lady's  dressing-case  for  sale — an  un- 
couth, fetich-like  object  with  a  cushion  for  its  body,  and  a 
top-knot  of  black  feathers.  The  cushion  contains  two  kohl- 
bottles,  a  bodkin  and  a  bone  comb. 

But  the  noisest  dealer  of  the  lot  is  an  impish  boy  blessed 
with  the  blackest  skin  and  the  shrillest  voice  ever  brought 
together  in  one  human  being.  His  simple  costume  con- 
sists of  a  tattered  shirt  and  a  white  cotton  skull-cap;  his 
stock  in  trade  of  a  greasy  leather  fringe  tied  to  the  end  of 
a  stick.  Flying  from  window  to  window  of  the  saloon  on 
the  side  next  the  shore,  scrambling  up  the  bows  of  a  neigh- 
boring cargo-boat  so  as  to  attack  us  in  the  rear,  thrust- 
ing his  stick  and  fringe  in  our  faces  whichever  way  we  turn, 
and  pursuing  us  with  eager  cries  of  "Madame  Nubia! 
Madame  Nubia!"  he  skips  and  screams  and  grins  like  an 
ubiquitous  goblin,  and  throws  every  competitor  into  the 
shade. 

Having  seen  a  similar  fringe  in  the  collection  of  a  friend 
at  home,  I  at  once  recognized  in  "  Madame  Nubia"  one  of 
those  curious  girdles,  which,  with  the  addition  of  a  necklace 
and  a  few  bracelets,  form  the  entire  wardrobe  of  little  girls 
south  of  the  cataract.  They  vary  in  size  according  to  the 
age  of  the  wearer;  the  largest  being  about  twelve  inches  in 
depth  and  twenty-five  in  length.  A  few  are  ornamented  with 
beads  and  small  shells;  but  these  aveparures  de  luxe.  The  or- 
dinary article  is  cheaply  and  unpretentiously  trimmed  with 
castor-oil.  That  is  to  say,  the  girdle  when  new  is  well 
soaked  in  the  oil,  which  softens  and  darkens  the  leather, 
besides  adding  a  perfume  dear  to  native  nostrils. 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  159 

For  to  the  Nubian,  who  grows  his  own  plants  and  bruises 
his  own  berries,  this  odor  is  delicious.  He  reckons  castor- 
oil  among  his  greatest  luxuries.  He  eats  it  as  we  eat 
butter.  His  wives  saturate  their  plaited  locks  in  it.  His 
little  girls  perfume  their  fringes  with  it.  His  boys  anoint 
their  bodies  with  it.  His  home,  his  breath,  his  garments, 
his  food  are  redolent  of  it.  It  pervades  the  very  air  in 
which  he  lives  and  has  his  being.  Happy  the  European 
traveler  who,  while  his  lines  are  cast  in  Nubia,  can  train 
his  degenerate  nose  to  delight  in  the  aroma  of  castor-oil! 

The  march  of  civilization  is  driving  these  fringes  out  of 
fashion  on  the  frontier.  At  Assuan  they  are  chiefly  in  de- 
mand among  English  and  American  visitors.  Most  people 
purchase  a  "  Madame   Nubia"  for   the  entertainment  of 

friends  at  home.     L ,  who  is  given  to  vanities   in    the 

way  of  dress,  bought  one  so  steeped  in  fragrance  that  it 
scented  the  Phila?  for  the  rest  of  the  voyage  and  retains  its 
odor  to  this  day. 

Almost  before  the  mooring-rope  was  made  fast  our 
painter,  arrayed  in  a  gorgeous  keffiyeh*  and  armed  with 
the  indispensible  visiting-cane,  had  sprung  ashore  and 
hastened  to  call  upon  the  governor,  A  couple  of  hours 
later  the  governor  (having  promised  to  send  at  once  for 
the  sheik  of  the  cataract  and  to  forward  our  going  by  all 
means  in  his  power)  returned  the  visit.  He  brought  with 
him  the  mudirf  and  kadij  of  Assuan,  each  attended  by  his 
pipe-bearer. 

We  received  our  guests  with  due  ceremony  in  the  saloon. 
The  great  men  placed  themselves  on  one  of  the  side-divans, 
and  the  painter  opened  the  conversation  by  offering  them 
champagne,  chiret,  port,  sherry,  curacoa,  brandy,  whisky 
and  Angostura  bitters.     Talhamy  interpreted. 

The  governor  laughed.  He  was  a  tall  young  man,  grace- 
ful, lively,  good-looking  and  black  as  a  crow.  The  kadi 
and  mudir  both  elderly  Arabs,  yellow,  wrinkled  and  pre- 
cise, looked  shocked  at  the  mere  mention  of  these  unholy 
liquors.     Somebody  then  proposed  lemonade. 

The  governor  turned  briskly  toward  the  speaker. 

*  Keffiyeh  :  A  square  head-shawl,  made  of  silk  or  wollen.     Euro- 
pean travelers  wear  them  as  puggarees, 
f  Mudir  :  Chief  magistrate. 
X  Kadi :  Judge. 


160  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

"Gazzoso  ?"  he  said,  interrogatively. 

To  which  Talhamy  replied:  "  Ai'wah  [yes,]  Gazzoso." 

Aerated  lemonade  and  cigars  were  then  brought.  The 
governor  watched  the  process  of  uncorking  with  a  face  of 
profound  interest  and  drank  with  the  undisguised  greedi- 
ness of  a  school-boy.  Even  the  kadi  and  mudir  relaxed 
somewhat  of  the  gravity  of  their  demeanor.  To  men 
whose  habitual  drink  consists  of  lime-water  and  sugar, 
bottled  lemonade  represents  chamjoagne  mousseux  of  the 
choicest  brand. 

Then  began  the  usual  attemps  at  conversation;  and  only 
those  who  have  tried  small  talk  by  proxy  know  how  hard 
it  is  to  supply  topics,  suppress  yawns  and  keep  up  an 
animated  expression  of  countenance,  while  the  civilities  on 
both  sides  are  being  interpreted  by  a  dragoman. 

We  began,  of  course,  with  the  temperature  ;  for  in 
Egypt,  where  it  never  rains  and  the  sun  is  always  shining, 
the  thermometer  takes  the  place  of  the  weather  as  a  useful 
platitude.  Knowing  that  Assuan  enjoys  the  hottest  repu- 
tation of  any  town  on  the  surface  of  the  globe,  we  were 
agreeably  surprised  to  find  it  no  warmer  than  England  in 
September.  The  governor  accounted  for  this  by  saying 
that  he  had  never  known  so  cold  a  winter.  We  then  asked 
the  usual  questions  about  the  crops,  the  height  of  the  river, 
and  so  forth;  to  all  of  which  he  replied  with  the  ease  and 
bonhomie  of  a  man  of  the  world.  Nubia,  he  said,  was 
healthy — the  date-harvest  had  been  abundant — the  corn 
promised  well — the  Soudan  was  quiet  and  prosperous. 
Referring  to  the  new  postal  arrangements,  he  congratulated 
us  on  being  able  to  receive  and  post  letters  at  the  second 
cataract.  He  also  remarked  that  the  telegraphic  wires 
were  now  in  working  order  as  far  as  Khartum.  We  then 
asked  how  soon  he  expected  the  railway  to  reach  Assuan; 
to  which  he  replied:     "  In  two  years,  at  latest." 

At  length  our  little  stock  of  topics  came  to  an  end  and 
the  entertainment  flagged. 

"  What  shall  I  say  next  ?"  asked  the  dragoman. 

"  Tell  him  we  particularly  wish  to  see  the  slave  market." 

The  smile  vanished  from  the  governor's  face.  The 
mudir  set  down  a  glass  of  fizzing  lemonade,  untasted. 
The  kadi  all  but  dropped  his  cigar.  If  a  shell  had  burst 
in  the  saloon  their  consternation  could  scarcely  have  been 
greater. 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  161 

The  governor,  looking  very  grave,  was  the  first  to  speak. 

"  He  says  there  is  no  slave  trade  in  Egypt  and  no  slave 
market  in  Assiian,"  interrupted  Talhamy. 

Now,  we  had  been  told  in  Cairo,  on  excellent  authority, 
that  slaves  were  still  bought  and  sold  here,  though  less 
publicly  than  of  old;  and  that  of  all  the  sights  a  traveler 
might  see  in  Egypt,  this  was  the  most  curious  and 
pathetic. 

"  No  slave  market !"  we  repeated,  incredulously. 

The  governor,  the  kadi  and  the  mudir  shook  their  heads, 
and  lifted  up  their  voices,  and  said  all  together,  like  a  trio 
of  mandarins  in  a  comic  opera: 

"  La,  la,  la  !  Mafeesh  bazaar — mafeesh  bazaar  !"  ("No, 
no,  no!     No  bazaar — no  bazaar  !") 

We  endeavored  to  explain  that  in  making  this  inquiry 
we  desired  neither  the  gratification  of  an  idle  curiosity, 
nor  the  furtherance  of  any  political  views.  Our  only 
object  was  sketching.  Understanding,  therefore,  that  a 
private  bazaar  still  existed  in  Assiian 

This  was  too  much  for  the  judical  susceptibilities  of  the 
kadi.     He  would  not  let  Talhamy  finish. 

'•'  There  is  nothing  of  the  kind,"  he  interrupted,  pucker- 
ing his  face  into  an  expression  of  such  virtuous  horror  as 
might  become  a  reformed  New  Zealander  on  the  subject  of 
cannibalism.     "It  is  unlawful — unlawful." 

An  awkward  silence  followed.  We  felt  we  had  com- 
mitted an  enormous  blunder,  and  were  disconcerted 
accordingly. 

The  governor  saw,  and  with  the  best  grace  in  the  world 
took  pity  upon,  our  embarrassment.  He  rose,  opened  the 
piano,  and  asked  for  some  music;  whereupon  the  little 
lady  played  the  liveliest  thing  she  could  remember;  which 
happened  to  be  a  waltz  by  Verdi. 

The  governor,  meanwhile,  sat  beside  the  piano,  smiling 
and  attentive.  With  all  his  politeness,  however,  he  seemed 
to  be  looking  for  something — to  be  not  altogether  satisfied. 
There  was  even  a  shade  of  disappointment  in  the  tone  of 
his  "Ketther-khayrik  ketir,"  when  the  waltz  finally  ex- 
ploded in  a  shower  of  arpeggios.  What  could  it  be?  Was 
it  that  he  wished  for  a  song?  Or  would  a  pathetic  air  have 
pleased  him  better? 

Not  a  bit  of  it.  He  was  looking  for  what  his  quick  eye 
presently  detected — namely,  some  printed  music,  which  he 


162  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

seized  triumphantly  and  placed  before  the  player.  What 
he  wanted  was  "  music  played  from  a  book." 

Being  asked  whether  he  preferred  a  lively  or  a  plaintive 
melody,  he  replied  that  "  he  did  not  care,  so  long  as  it  was 
difficult." 

Now  it  chanced  that  he  had  pitched  upon  a  volume  of 
Wagner;  so  the  little  lady  took  him  at  his  word  and  gave 
him  a  dose  of  "  Tannhaiiser."  Strange  to  say,  he  was  de- 
lighted. He  showed  his  teeth  ;  he  rolled  his  eyes  ;  he 
uttered  the  long-drawn  "Ah!'' which  in  Egypt  signifies 
applause.  The  more  crabbed,  the  more  far-fetched,  the 
more  unintelligible  the  movement,  the  better,  apparently, 
he  liked  it. 

I  never  think  of  Assuan  but  I  remember  that  curious 
scene  —  our  little  lady  at  the  piano;  the  black  governor 
grinning  in  ecstasies  close  by  ;  the  kadi  in  his  magnificent 
shawl-turban  ;  the  mudir  half  asleep  ;  the  air  thick  with 
tobacco-smoke;  and  above  all — dominant,  tyrannous,  over- 
powering—  the  crash  and  clang,  the  involved  harmonies, 
and  the  multitudinous  combinations  of  Tannhaiiser. 

The  linked  sweetness  of  an  oriental  visit  is  generally 
drawn  out  to  a  length  that  sorely  tries  the  patience  and 
politeness  of  European  hosts.  A  native  gentleman,  if  he 
has  any  business  to  attend  to,  gets  through  his  work  before 
noon,  and  has  nothing  to  do  but  smoke,  chat,  and  doze 
away  the  remainder  of  the  day.  For  time,  which  hangs 
heavily  on  his  hands,  he  has  absolutely  no  value.  His 
main  object  in  life  is  to  consume  it,  if  possible,  less  tedi- 
ously. He  pays  a  visit,  therefore,  with  the  deliberate 
intention  of  staying  as  long  as  possible.  Our  guests  on  the 
present  occasion  remained  the  best  part  of  two  hours ;  and 
the  governor,  who  talked  of  going  to  England  shortly, 
asked  for  all  our  names  and  addresses,  that  he  might  come 
and  see  us  at  home. 

Leaving  the  cabin,  he  paused  to  look  at  our  roses,  which 
stood  near  the  door.  We  told  him  they  had  been  given  to 
us  by  the  Bey  of  Erment. 

"  Do  they  grow  at  Erment?"  he  asked,  examining  them 
with  great  curiosity.  "How  beautiful!  Why  will  they 
not  grow  in  Nubia?" 

We  suggested  that  the  climate  was  probably  too  hot  for 
them. 

He  stooped,  inhaling  their  perfume.    He  looked  puzzled. 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  1G3 

"  They  are  very  sweet,"  lie  said.     "  Are  they  roses?" 

The  question  gave  us  a  kind  of  shock.  We  could  hardly 
believe  we  had  reached  a  land  where  roses  were  unknown. 
Yet  the  governor,  who  had  smoked  a  rose-water  narghile 
and  drunk  rose-sherbet  and  eaten  conserve  of  roses  all  his 
days,  recognized  them  by  their  perfume  only.  He  had 
never  been  out  of  Assuan  in  his  life;  not  even  as  far  as 
Erment.     And  he  had  never  seen  a  rose  in  bloom. 

We  had  hoped  to  begin  the  passage  of  the  cataract  on 
the  morning  of  the  day  following  our  arrival  at  the  frontier; 
but  some  other  dahabeeyah,  it  seemed,  was  in  the  act  of 
fighting  its  way  up  to  Philas  ;  and  till  that  boat  was 
through,  neither  the  sheik  nor  his  men  would  be  ready 
for  us.  At  eight  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  the  next  day 
but  one,  however,  they  promised  to  take  us  in  hand.  We 
were  to  pay  £12  English  for  the  double  journey;  that  is  to 
say,  £9  down  ;  and  the  remaining  £3  on  our  return  to 
Assuan. 

Such  was  the  treaty  concluded  between  ourselves  and 
the  sheik  of  the  cataract  at  a  solemn  conclave  over  which 
the  governor,  assisted  by  the  kadi  and  mudir,  presided. 

Having  a  clear  day  to  spend  at  Assuan,  we  of  course 
gave  part  thereof  to  Elephantine,  which  in  the  inscrip- 
tions is  called  Abu,  or  the  Ivory  Island.  There  may  per- 
haps have  been  a  depot,  or  "  treasure-city,"  here  for  the 
precious  things  of  the  Upper  Nile  country  ;  the  gold  of 
Nubia  and  the  elephant-tusks  of  Kush. 

It  is  a  very  beautiful  island — rugged  and  lofty  to  the 
south  •  low  and  fertile  to  the  north  ;  with  an  exquisitely 
varied  coast-line  full  of  wooded  creeks  and  miniature 
beaches  in  which  one  might  expect  at  any  moment  to  meet 
Eobinson  Crusoe  with  his  goat-skin  umbrella,  or  man 
Friday  bending  under  a  load  of  faggots.  They  are  all 
Fridays  here,  however ;  for  Elephantine,  being  the  first 
Nubian  outpost,  is  peopled  by  Nubians  only.  It  contains 
two  Nubian  villages,  and  the  mounds  of  a  very  ancient 
city  which  was  the  capital  of  all  Egypt  under  the  Pharaohs 
of  the  sixth  dynasty,  between  three  and  four  thousand  years 
before  Christ.  Two  temples,  one  of  which  dated  from  the 
reign  of  Ainenhotep  III,  were  yet  standing  here  some 
seventy  years  ago.  They  were  seen  by  Belzoni  in  1815, 
and  had  just  been  destroyed  to  build  a  palace  and  barracks 
when  Champollion  went  up  in  18'-39.     A  ruined  gateway  of 


164  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUE  NILE. 

the  Ptolemaic  period  and  a  forlorn-looking  sitting  statue  of 
Menephtah,  the  supposed  Pharaoh  of  the  exodus,  alone 
remain  to  identify  the  sites  on  which  they  stood. 

Thick  palm-groves  and  carefully  tilled  patches  of  castor- 
oil  and  cotton  plants,  lentils,  and  durra,  make  green  the 
heart  of  the  island.  The  western  shore  is  wooded  to  the 
water's  edge.  One  may  walk  here  in  the  shade  at  hottest 
noon,  listening  to  the  murmur  of  the  cataract  and  seeking 
for  wild  flowers — which,  however,  would  seem  to  hlossom 
nowhere  save  in  the  sweet  Arabic  name  of  Geziret-el-Zahr, 
the  island  of  flowers. 

Upon  the  high  ground  at  the  southern  extremity  of  the 
island,  among  rubbish  heaps,  and  bleached  bones,  and 
human  skulls,  and  the  sloughed  skins  of  snakes,  and  piles 
of  party-colored  potsherds,  we  picked  up  several  bits  of  in- 
scribed terra-cotta — evidently  fragments  of  broken  vases. 
The  writing  was  very  faint,  and  in  part  obliterated.  We 
could  see  that  the  characters  were  Greek;  but  not  even  our 
idle  man  was  equal  to  making  out  a  word  of  the  sense. 
Believing  them  to  be  mere  disconnected  scraps  to  which  it 
would  be  impossible  to  find  the  corresponding  pieces — 
taking  it  for  granted,  also,  that  they  were  of  comparatively 
modern  date — we  brought  away  some  three  or  four  as 
souvenirs  of  the  place,  and  thought  no  more  about  them. 

We  little  dreamed  that  Dr.  Birch,  in  his  cheerless  official 
room  at  the  British  Museum  so  many  thousand  miles  away, 
was  at  this  very  time  occupied  in  deciphering  a  collection 
of  similar  fragments,  nearly  all  of  which  had  been  brought 
from  this  same  spot.*     Of  the  curious  interest  attaching  to 

*  The  results  of  Dr.  Birch's  labors  were  given  to  the  public  in 
his  "  Guide  to  tbe  First  and  Second  Egyptian  Rooms,"  published  by 
order  of  the  trustees  of  tbe  British  Museum  in  May,  1874.  Of  the 
contents  of  case  ninety-nine  in  the  "second  room,"  he  says:  "The 
use  of  potsherds  for  documents  received  a  great  extension  at  the 
time  of  the  Roman  empire,  when  receipts  for  the  taxes  were  given 
on  these  fragments  by  the  collectors  of  revenue  at  Elephantine  or 
Syene,  on  the  frontier  of  Egypt.  These  receipts  commenced  in  the 
reign  of  Vespasian,  A.  D.  77,  and  are  found  as  late  as  M.  Aureliusand 
L.  Verus,  A.  d.  165.  It  appears  from  them  that  the  capitation  and 
trades  tax,  which  was  sixteen  drams  in  A.  D.  77,  rose  to  twenty  in 
A.  D.  165,  having  steadily  increased.  The  dues  were  paid  in  install- 
ments called  merismoi,  at  three  periods  of  the  year.  The  taxes  were 
farmed  out  to  publicans  {mixthotai),  who  appear  from  their  names  to 
have  been  Greeks.  At  Elephantine  the  taxes  were  received  by  tax- 
gatherers  {prakteres),  who  seem  to  have  been  appointed  as  early  as 


AS8UAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  165 

these  illegible  scrawls,  of  the  importance  they  were  shortly 
to  acquire  in  the  eyes  of  the  learned,  of  the  possible  value 
of  any  chance  additions  to  their  number  we  knew,  and 
could  know,  nothing.  Six  months  later  we  lamented  our 
ignorance  and  our  lost  opportunities. 

For  the  Egyptians,  it  seems,  used  potsherds  instead  of 
papyrus  for  short  memoranda;  and  each  of  these  fragments 
which  we  had  picked  up  contained  a  record  complete  in 
itself.  I  fear  we  should  have  laughed  if  any  one  had  sug- 
gested that  they  might  be  tax-gatherers'  receipts.  Yet 
that  is  just  what  they  were — receipts  for  government  dues 
collected  on  the  frontier  during  the  period  of  Roman  rule 
in  Egypt.  They  were  written  in  Greek,  because  the 
Romans  deputed  Greek  scribes  to  perform  the  duties  of 
this  unpopular  office;  but  the  Greek  is  so  corrupt  and  the 
penmanship  so  clownish  that  only  a  few  eminent  scholars 
can  read  them. 

Not  all  the  inscribed  fragments  found  at  Elephantine, 
however,  are  tax-receipts,  or  written  in  bad  Greek.  The 
British  Museum  contains  several  in  the  demotic,  or  current, 
script  of  the  people,  and  a  few  in  the  more  learned  hieratic, 
or  priestly,  hand.  The  former  have  not  yet  been  translated. 
They  are  probably  business  memoranda  and  short  private 
letters  of  Egyptians  of  the  same  period. 

But  how  came  these  fragile  documents  to  be  preserved, 
when  the  city  in  which  their  writers  lived,  and  the  temples 
in  which  they  worshiped,  have  disappeared  and  left  scarce 

the  Ptolemies.  Their  clerks  were  Egyptians,  and  they  had  a  chest 
and  treasure  (phylax)."  See  p.  109,  as  above;  also  Birch's  "History 
of  Ancient  Pottery,"  chap.  1,  p.  45. 

These  barren  memoranda  are  not  the  only  literary  curiosities  found 
at  Elephantine.  Among  the  Egyptian  manuscripts  of  the  Louvre  may 
be  seen  some  fragments  of  the  eighteenth  book  of  the  "  Iliad,"  dis- 
covered in  a  tomb  upon  the  island.  How  they  came  to  be  buried 
there  no  one  knows.  A  lover  of  poetry  would  like  to  think,  how- 
ever, that  some  Greek  or  Roman  officer,  dying  at  his  post  upon  this 
distant  station,  desired,  perhaps,  to  have  his  Homer  laid  with  him  in 
his  grave. 

Note  to  Second  Edition. — Other  fragments  of  ' '  Iliad  "  have 
been  found  from  time  to  time  in  various  parts  of  Egypt;  some  (now 
in  the  Louvre)  being  scrawled,  like  the  above-mentioned  tax-receipts, 
on  mere  potsherds.  The  finest  specimen  ever  found  in  Egypt  or 
elsewhere,  and  the  earliest,  has,  however,  been  discovered  this  year, 
1888,  by  Mr.  Flinders  Petrie  in  the  grave  of  a  woman  at  Hawara,  in 
the  Fayum, 


166  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

a  trace  behind  ?  Who  cast  them  down  among  the  pot- 
sherds on  this  barren  hillside?  Are  we  to  suppose  that 
some  kind  of  public  record  office  once  occupied  the  site, 
and  that  the  receipts  here  stored  were  duplicates  of  those 
given  to  the  payers?  Or  is  it  not  even  more  probable  that 
this  place  was  the  Monte  Testaccio  of  the  ancient  city,  to 
which  all  broken  pottery,  written  as  well  as  unwritten, 
found  its  way  sooner  or  later? 

With  the  exception  of  a  fine  fragment  of  Eoman  quay 
nearly  opposite  Assuan,  the  ruined  gateway  of  Alexander 
and  the  battered  statue  of  Menephtah  are  the  only  objects 
of  archaeological  interest  in  the  island.  But  the  charm  of 
Elephantine  is  the  everlasting  charm  of  natural  beauty — 
of  rocks,  of  ]3alm-woods,  of  quiet  waters. 

The  streets  of  Assuan  are  just  like  the  streets  of  every 
other  mud  town  on  the  Xile.  The  bazaars  reproduce 
the  bazaars  of  Minieh  and  Siut.  The  environs  are 
noisy  with  cafes  and  dancing-girls,  like  the  environs  of 
Esneh  and  Luxor.  Into  the  mosque,  where  some  kind 
of  service  was  going  on,  we  peeped  without  entering.  It 
looked  cool,  and  clean,  and  spacious;  the  floor  being 
covered  with  fine  matting,  and  some  scores  of  ostrich- 
eggs  depending  from  the  ceiling.  In  the  bazaars  we 
bought  baskets  and  mats  of  Nubian  manufacture,  woven 
with  the  same  reeds,  dyed  with  the  same  colors,  shaped  after 
the  same  models,  as  those  found  in  the  tombs  at  Thebes.  A 
certain  oval  basket  with  a  vaulted  cover,  of  which  specimens 
are  preserved  in  the  British  Museum,  seems  still  to  be  the 
pattern  most  in  demand  at  Assuan.  The  basket-makers 
have  neither  changed  their  fashion  nor  the  buyers  their 
taste  since  the  days  of  Rameses  the  Great. 

Here  also,  at  a  little  cupboard  of  a  shop  near  the  shoe 
bazaar,  we  were  tempted  to  speud  a  few  pounds  in  ostrich 
feathers,  which  are  conveyed  to  Assuan  by  traders  from 
the  Soudan.  The  merchant  brought  out  a  feather  at  a 
time,  and  seemed  in  uo  haste  to  sell.  We  also  affected 
indifference.  The  haggling  on  both  sides  was  tremendous. 
The  by-standers,  as  usual,  were  profoundly  interested,  and 
commented  on  every  word  that  passed.  At  last  we  carried 
away  an  armful  of  splendid  plumes,  most  of  which 
measured  from  two  and  a  half  to  three  feet  in  length. 
Some  were  pure  white,  others  white  tipped  with  brown. 
They  had  been  neither  cleaned  nor  curled,  but  were  just  as 
they  came  from  the  hands  of  the  ostrich-hunters, 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  167 

By  far  the  most  amusing  sight  in  Assuan  was  the  traders' 
camp  down  near  the  landing-place.  Here  were  Abyssinians 
like  slender-legged  baboons;  wild-looking  Bishariyah  and 
Ababdeh  Arabs  with  flashing  eyes  and  flowing  hair;  sturdy 
Nubians  the  color  of  a  Barbedienne  bronze  ;  and  natives 
of  all  tribes  and  shades,  from  Kordofan  and  Sennar,  the 
deserts  of  the  Bahuda  and  the  banks  of  the  Blue  and  White 
Niles.  Some  were  running  from  Cairo;  others  were  on 
their  way  thither.  Some,  having  disembarked  their  mer- 
chandise at  Mahatta  (a  village  on  the  other  side  of  the 
cataract),  had  come  across  the  desert  to  re-embark  it  at 
Assuan.  Others  had  just  disembarked  theirs  at  Assuan, 
in  order  to  re-embark  it  at  Mahatta.  Meanwhile,  they 
were  living  sub  jove;  each  intrenched  in  his  own  little  re- 
doubt of  piled-up  bales  and  packing-cases,  like  a  spider  in 
the  center  of  his  web;  each  provided  with  a  kettle  and 
coffee-pot,  and  an  old  rug  to  sleep  and  pray  upon.  One 
sulky  old  Turk  had  fixed  up  a  roof  of  matting,  and  fur- 
nished his  den  with  a  leaf  as,  or  palm-wood  couch;  but  he 
was  a  self-indulgent  exception  to  the  rule. 

Some  smiled,  some  scowled,  when  we  passed  through 
the  camp.  One  offered  us  coffee.  Another,  more  obliging 
than  the  rest,  displayed  the  contents  of  his  packages.  Great 
bundles  of  lion  and  leopard  skins,  bales  of  cotton,  sacks 
of  henna-leaves,  elephant-tusks  swathed  in  canvas  and 
matting,  strewed  the  sandy  bank.  Of  gum-arabic  alone  there 
must  have  been  several  hundred  bales;  each  bale  sewed 
up  in  a  raw  hide  and  tied  with  thongs  of  hippopotamus 
leather.  Toward  dusk,  when  the  camp-fires  were  alight 
and  the  evening  meal  was  in  course  of  preparation,  the 
scene  became  wonderfully  picturesque.  Lights  gleamed; 
shadows  deepened;  strange  figures  stalked  to  and  fro,  or 
squatted  in  groups  amid  their  merchandise.  Some  were 
baking  flat  cakes;  others  stirring  soup,  or  roasting  coffee. 
A  hole  scooped  in  the  sand,  a  couple  of  stones  to  support 
the  kettle,  and  a  handful  of  dry  sticks,  served  for  kitchen 
range  and  fuel.  Meanwhile  all  the  dogs  in  Assuan  prowled 
round  the  camp,  and  a  jargon  of  barbaric  tongues  came 
and  went  with  the  breeze  that  followed  the  sunset. 

I  must  not  forget  to  add  that  among  this  motley  crowd 
we  saw  two  brothers,  natives  of  Khartum.  We  met  them 
first  in  the  town,  and  afterward  in  the  camp.  They  wore 
voluminous  white  turbans  and  flowing  robes  of  some  kind 


168  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

of  creamy  cashmere  cloth.  Their  small  proud  heads  and 
delicate  aristocratic  features  were  modeled  on  the  purest 
Florentine  type;  their  eyes  were  long  and  liquid;  their 
complexions,  free  from  any  taint  of  Abyssinian  blue  or 
Nubian  bronze,  were  intensely,  lustrously,  magnificently 
black.  We  agreed  that  we  had  never  seen  two  such  hand- 
some men.  They  were  like  young  and  beautiful  Dantee 
carved  in  ebony;  Dantes  unembittered  by  the  world, 
unsicklied  by  the  pale  cast  of  thought,  and  glowing  with 
the  life  of  the  warm  south. 

Having  explored  Elephantine  and  ransacked  the  bazaars, 
our  party  dispersed  in  various  directions.  Some  gave  the 
remainder  of  the  day  to  letter-writing.  The  painter,  bent 
on  sketching,  started  off  in  search  of  a  jackal-haunted 
ruin  up  a  wild  ravine  on  the  Libyan  side  of  the  river. 
The  writer  and  the  idle  man  boldly  mounted  camels  and 
rode  out  into  the  Arabian  desert. 

Now  the  camel-riding  that  is  done  at  Assuan  is  of  the 
most  commonplace  description,  and  bears  to  genuine  desert 
traveling  about  the  same  relation  that  half  an  hour  on  the 
Mer  de  Glace  bears  to  the  passage  of  the  Mortaretsch 
glacier  or  the  ascent  of  Monte  Rosa.  The  short  cut  from 
Assuan  to  Philae,  or  at  least  the  ride  to  the  granite  quarries, 
forms  part  of  every  dragoman's  programme,  and  figures  as 
the  crowning  achievement  of  every  Cook's  tourist.  The 
Arabs  themselves  perform  these  little  journeys  much  more 
pleasantly  and  expeditiously  on  donkeys.  They  take  good 
care,  in  fact,  never  to  scale  the  summit  of  a  camel  if  they 
can  help  it.  But  for  the  impressionable  traveler,  the 
Assuan  camel  is  de  rigueur.  In  his  interests  are  those 
snarling  quadrupeds,  betasseled  and  berugged,  taken 
from  their  regular  work,  and  paraded  up  and  down  the 
landing-place.  To  transport  cargoes  disembarked  above 
and  below  the  cataract  is  their  vocation.  Taken  from  this 
honest  calling  to  perform  in  an  absurd  little  drama  got  up 
especially  for  the  entertainment  of  tourists,  it  is  no  wonder 
if  the  beasts  are  more  than  commonly  ill-tempered.  They 
know  the  whole  proceeding  to  be  essentially  cockney,  and 
they  resent  it  accordingly. 

The  ride,  nevertheless,  has  its  advantages;  not  the  least 
being  that  it  enables  one  to  realize  the  kind  of  work 
involved  in  any  of  the  regular  desert  expeditions.  At  all 
events,  it  entitles  one  to  claim  acquaintance  with  the  ship 


A8STTAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  100 

of  the  desert,  and  (bearing  in  mind  the  probable  inferiority 
of  the  specimen)  to  form  an  ex  pede  judgment  of  his  qual- 
ification. 

The  camel  has  his  virtues — so  much  at  least  must  be 
admitted;  but  they  do  not  lie  upon  the  surface.  My 
Buffo n  tells  me,  for  instance,  that  he  carries  a  fresh-water 
cistern  in  his  stomach;  which  is  meritorious.  But  the 
cistern  ameliorates  neither  his  gait  nor  his  temper — which 
are  abominable.  Irreproachable  as  a  beast  of  burden,  he 
is  open  to  many  objections  as  a  steed.  It  is  unpleasant,  in 
the  first  place,  to  ride  an  animal  which  not  only  objects  to 
being  ridden,  but  cherishes  a  strong  personal  antipathy  to 
his  rider.  Such,  however,  is  his  amiable  peculiarity. 
You  know  that  he  hates  you,  from  the  moment  you  first 
walk  round  him,  wondering  where  and  how  to  begin  the 
ascent  of  his  hump.  He  does  not,  in  fact,  hesitate  to  tell 
you  so  in  the  roundest  terms.  He  swears  freely  while  you 
are  taking  your  seat;  snarls  if  you  but  move  in  the  saddle; 
and  stares  you  angrily  in  the  face  if  you  attempt  to  turn 
his  head  in  any  direction  save  that  which  he  himself 
prefers.  Should  you  persevere,  he  tries  to  bite  your  feet. 
If  biting  your  feet  does  not  answer,  he  lies  down. 

Now  the  lying  down  and  getting  up  of  a  camel  are 
performances  designed  for  the  express  purpose  of  inflicting 
grievous  bodily  harm  upon  his  rider.  Thrown  twice  for- 
ward and  twice  backward,  punched  in  his  "wind  "and 
damaged  in  his  spine,  the  luckless  novice  receives  four  dis- 
tinct shocks,  each  more  violent  and  unexpected  than  the  last. 
For  this  "execrable  hunchback"  is  fearfully  and  wonder- 
fully made.  He  has  a  superfluous  joint  somewhere  in  his 
legs  and  uses  it  to  revenge  himself  upon  mankind. 

His  paces,  however,  are  more  complicated  than  his 
joints  and  more  trying  than  his  temper.  He  has  four  :  a 
short  walk,  like  the  rolling  of  a  small  boat  in  a  chopping 
sea;  a  long  walk,  which  dislocates  every  bone  in  your  body; 
a  trot  that  reduces  you  to  imbecility;  and  a  gallop  that  is 
sudden  death.  One  tries  in  vain  to  imagine  a  crime  for 
which  the  peine  forte  et  dare  of  sixteen  hours  on  camel- 
back  would  not  be  a  full  and  sufficient  expiation.  It  is  a 
punishment  to  which  one  would  not  willingly  be  the  means 
of  condemning  any  human  being — not  even  a  reviewer. 

They  had  been  down  on  the  bank  for  hire  all  day  long — 
brown  camels  and  white  camels,  shaggy  camels  and  smooth 


170  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

camels;  all  with  gay  worsted  tassels  on  their  heads  and 
rugs  flung  over  their  high  wooden  saddles,  by  way  of 
housings.  The  gentlemen  of  the  Fostat  had  ridden  away 
hours  ago,  cross-legged  and  serene;  and  we  had  witnessed 
their  demeanor  with  mingled  admiration  and  envy.  Now, 
modestly  conscious  of  our  own  daring,  we  prepared  to  do 
likewise.  It  was  a  solemn  moment  when,  having  chosen 
our  beasts,  we  prepared  to  encounter  the  unknown  perils 
of  the  desert.  What  wonder  if  the  happy  couple  exchanged 
an  affecting  farewell  at  parting? 

We  mounted  and  rode  away;  two  imps  of  darkness  fol- 
lowing at  the  heels  of  our  camels  and  Salame  performing 
the  part  of  body-guard.  Thus  attended,  we  found  our- 
selvelves  pitched,  swung  and  rolled  along  at  a  pace  that 
carried  us  rapidly  up  the  slope,  past  a  suburb  full  of  cafes 
and  grinning  dancing-girls  and  out  into  the  desert.  Our 
way  for  the  first  half-mile  or  so  lay  among  tombs.  A 
great  Mohammedan  necropolis,  part  ancient,  part  modern, 
lies  behind  Assuan  and  covers  more  ground  than  the  town 
itself.  Some  scores  of  tiny  mosques,  each  topped  by  its 
little  cupola  and  all  more  or  less  dilapidated,  stand  here 
amid  a  wilderness  of  scattered  tombstones.  Some  are 
isolated;  some  grouped  picturesquely  together.  Each 
covers,  or  is  supposed  to  cover,  the  grave  of  a  Moslem 
santon;  but  some  are  mere  commemorative  chapels  dedi- 
cated to  saints  and  martyrs  elsewhere  buried.  Of  simple 
headstones  defaced,  shattered,  overturned,  propped  back 
to  back  on  cairns  of  loose  stones,  or  piled  in  broken  and 
dishonored  heaps,  there  must  be  many  hundreds.  They 
are  for  the  most  part  rounded  at  the  top  like  ancient 
Egyptian  stela?  and  bear  elaborately  carved  inscriptions, 
some  of  which  are  in  the  Cufic  character  and  more  than  a 
thousand  years  old.  Seen  when  the  sun  is  bending  west- 
ward and  the  shadows  are  lengthening,  there  is  something 
curiously  melancholy  and  picturesque  about  this  city  of  the 
dead  in  the  dead  desert. 

Leaving  the  tombs,  we  now  strike  off  toward  the  left, 
bound  for  the  obelisk  in  the  quarry,  which  is  the  stock 
sight  of  the  place.  The  horizon  beyond  Assuan  is  bounded 
on  all  sides  by  rocky  heights,  bold  and  picturesque  in 
form,  yet  scarcely  lofty  enough  to  deserve  the  name  of 
mountains.  The'  sandy  bottom  under  our  camel's  feet  is 
strewn  with  small  pebbles  and  tolerably  firm.     Clustered 


ASS  VAX  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  1?1 

rocks  of  black  and  red  granite  profusely  inscribed  with 
hieroglypbed  records  crop  up  here  and  there  and  serve  as 
landmarks  just  where  landmarks  are  needed.  For  nothing 
would  be  easier  than  to  miss  one's  way  among  these  tawny 
slopes  and  to  go  wandering  off,  like  lost  Israelites,  into  the 
desert. 

Winding  in  and  out  among  undulating  hillocks  and 
tracts  of  rolled  bowlders,  we  come  at  last  to  a  little  group 
of  cliffs,  at  the  foot  of  which  our  camels  halt  unbidden. 
Here  we  dismount,  climb  a  short  slope  and  find  the  huge 
monolith  at  our  feet. 

Being  cut  horizontally,  it  lies  half-buried  in  drifted  sand, 
with  nothing  to  show  that  it  is  not  wholly  disengaged 
and  ready  for  transport.  Our  books  tell  us,  however,  that 
the  under-cutting  has  never  been  done  and  that  it  is 
yet  one  with  the  granite  bottom  on  which  it  seems  to  lie. 
Both  ends  are  hidden;  but  one  can  pace  some  sixty  feet 
of  its  yet  visible  surface.  That  surface  bears  the  tool- 
marks  of  the  workmen.  A  slanting  groove  pitted  with 
wedge-holes  indicates  where  it  was  intended  to  taper  to- 
ward the  top.  Another  shows  where  it  was  to  be  reduced 
at  the  sides.  Had  it  been  finished,  this  would  have  been 
the  largest  obelisk  in  the  world.  The  great  obelisk  of 
Queen  Hatshepsu  at  Karnak,  which,  as  its  inscriptions 
record,  came  also  from  Assuan,  stands  ninety-two  feet  high 
and  measures  eight  feet  square  at  the  base;*  but  this  which 
lies  sleeping  in  the  desert  would  have  stood  ninety-five  feet 
in  the  shaft,  and  have  measured  over  eleven  feet  square  at 
the  base.  We  can  never  know  now  why  it  was  left  here,  nor 
guess  with  what  royal  name  it  should  have  been  inscribed. 
Had  the  king  said  in  his  heart  that  he  would  set  up  a 
mightier  obelisk  than  was  ever  yet  seen  by  eyes  of  men, 
and  did  he  die  before  the  block  could  be  extracted  from 
the  quarry?  Or  were  the  quarry  men  driven  from  the 
desert,  and  the  Pharaoh  from  his  throne,  by  the  hungry 
hordes  of  Ethiopia,  or  Syria,  or  the  islands  beyond  the 
sea  ?  The  great  stone  may  be  older  than  Rameses  the 
Great,  or  as  modern  as  the  last  of  the  Romans;  but  to  give 
it  a  date,  or  to  divine    its  history,   is  impossible.     Egypt- 

*  These  are  the  measurements  given  in  Murray's  hand-book.  The 
new  English  translation  of  Mariette's  "Itineraire  de  la  Haute  Egypte" 
gives  the  obelisk  of  Hatshepsu  one  hundred  and  eight  feet  ten  inches 
in  height.  See  "The  Monuments  of  Upper  Egypt,"  translated  by 
Alphonse  Mariette,  London,  1877. 


172  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

ology,  which  has  solved  the  enigma  of  the  sphinx,  is  power- 
less here.  The  obelisk  of  the  quarry  holds  its  secret  safe, 
and  holds  it  forever. 

Ancient  Egyptian  quarrying  is  seen  under  its  most  strik- 
ing aspect  among  extensive  limestone  or  sandstone  ranges, 
as  at  Turra  and  Silsilis;  but  the  process  by  which  the  stone 
was  extracted  can  nowhere  be  more  distinctly  traced  than  at 
Assuan.  In  some  respects,  indeed,  the  quarries  here,  though 
on  a  smaller  scale  than  those  lower  down  the  river,  are 
even  more  interesting.  Nothing  surprises  one  at  Silsilis, 
for  instance,  more  than  economy  with  which  the  sandstone 
has  been  cut  from  the  heart  of  the  mountain;  but  at  As- 
suan, as  the  material  was  more  precious,  so  does  the  econ- 
omy seem  to  have  been  still  greater.  At  Silsilis,  the  yel- 
low cliffs  have  been  sliced  as  neatly  as  the  cheese  in  a  cheese- 
monger's window.  Smooth,  upright  walls  alone  mark  the 
place  where  the  work  has  been  done;  and  the  amount  of 
debris  is  altogether  insignificant.  But  at  Assuan,  when, 
extracting  granite  for  sculptural  purposes,  they  attacked 
the  form  of  the  object  required  and  cut  it  out  roughly  to 
shape.  The  great  obelisk  is  but  one  of  the  many  cases  in 
point.  In  the  same  group  of  rocks,  or  one  very  closely  ad- 
joining, we  saw  a  rough-hewn  column,  erect  and  three 
parts  detached,  as  well  as  the  semi-cylindrical  hollow  from 
which  its  fellow  had  been  taken.  One  curious  recess  from 
which  a  quadrant-shaped  mass  had  been  cut  away  puzzled 
us  immensely.  In  other  places  the  blocks  appeared  to 
have  been  coffer  shaped.  We  sought  in  vain,  however,  for 
the  broken  sarcophagus  mentioned  in  Murray. 

But  the  drifted  sands,  we  may  be  sure,  hide  more  pre- 
cious things  than  these.  Inscriptions  are  probably  as 
abundant  here  as  in  the  breccia  of  Hamamat.  The  great 
obelisk  must  have  had  a  fellow,  if  we  only  knew  where  to 
look  for  it.  The  obelisks  of  Queen  Ilatshepsu,  and  the 
sarcophagi  of  famous  kings,  might  possibly  be  traced  to 
their  beds  in  these  quarries.  So  might  the  casing-stones 
of  the  Pyramid  of  Menkara,  the  massive  slabs  of  the  Tem- 
ple of  the  Sphinx,  and  the  walls  of  the  sanctuary  of 
Philip  Aridasusat  Karnak.  Above  all,  the  syenite  Colos- 
sus of  the  Eamesseum  and  the  Colossus  of  Tanis,*  which 

*  For  an  account  of  the  discovery  of  this  enormous  statue  and  tlie 
measurements  of  its  various  parts,  see  "Tanis,"  Part  I,  by  W.  M. 
Flinders  Petrie,  chap,  ii,  pp.  22  et  seq.,  published  by  the  Egypt  Ex- 
ploration Fund,  1885.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  173 

was  the  largest  detached  statue  in  the  world,  must  each 
have  left  its  mighty  matrix  among  the  rocks  close  by.  But 
these,  like  the  song  of  the  sirens  or  the  alias  of  Achilles, 
though  "  not  beyond  all  conjecture,"  are  among  the  things 
that  will  never  now  be  discovered. 

As  regards  the  process  of  quarrying  at  Assuan,  it  seems 
that  rectangular  granite  blocks  were  split  off  here,  as  the 
softer  limestone  and  sandstone  elsewhere,  by  means  of 
wooden  wedges.  These  were  fitted  to  holes  already  cut  for 
their  reception;  and,  being  saturated  with  water,  split  the 
hard  rock  by  mere  force  of  expansion.  Every  quarried 
mass  hereabouts  is  marked  with  rows  of  these  wedge- 
holes. 

Passing  by  the  way  a  tiny  oasis  where  there  were  camels 
and  a  well,  and  an  idle  water-wheel,  and  a  patch  of 
emerald-green  barley,  we  next  rode  back  nearly  to  the  out- 
skirts of  Assuan,  where,  in  a  dismal  hollow  on  the  verge  of 
the  desert,  may  be  seen  a  small,  half-buried  temple  of 
Ptolemaic  times.  Traces  of  color  are  still  visible  on  the 
winged  globe  under  the  cornice,  and  on  some  mutilated 
bas-reliefs  at  either  side  of  the  principal  entrance.  Seeing 
that  the  interior  was  choked  with  rubbish,  we  made  no 
attempt  to  go  inside ;  but  rode  away  again  without 
dismounting. 

And  now,  there  being  still  an  hour  of  daylight,  we  sig- 
nified our  intention  of  making  for  the  top  of  the  nearest 
hill,  in  order  to  see  the  sun  set  This,  clearly,  was  an 
unheard  of  innovation.  The  camel  boys  stared,  shook 
their  heads,  protested  there  was  "  mafeesh  sikkeh  "  (no 
road),  and  evidently  regarded  as  as  lunatics.  The  camels 
planted  their  splay  feet  obstinately  in  the  sand,  tried  to 
turn  back,  and,  when  obliged  to  yield  to  the  force  of  cir- 
cumstances, abused  us  all  the  way.  Arrived  at  the  top, 
we  found  ourselves  looking  down  upon  the  Island  of  Ele- 
phantine, with  the  Nile,  the  town,  and  the  dahabeeyahs  at 
our  feet.  A  prolongation  of  the  ridge  on  which  we  were 
standing  led,  however,  to  another  height  crowned  by  a 
ruined  tomb;  and  seemed  to  promise  a  view  of  the  cataract. 
Seeing  us  prepare  to  go  on,  the  camel  boys  broke  into  a 
furor  of  remonstrance,  which,  but  for  Salame's  big  stick, 
would  have  ended  in  downright  mutiny.  Still  we  pushed 
forward,  and,  still  dissatisfied,  insisted  on  attacking  a 
third  summit.     The   boys  now   trudged  on   in  sullen  des- 


174  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  N ILK. 

pair.  The  sun  was  sinking  ;  the  way  was  steep  and  diffi- 
cult ;  the  night  would  soon  come  on.  If  the  howadji 
chose  to  break  their  necks,  it  concerned  nobody  but  them- 
selves; but  if  the  camels  broke  theirs,  who  was  to  pay  for 
them? 

Such — expressed  half  in  broken  Arabic,  half  in  gestures 
— were  the  sentiments  of  our  youthful  Nubians.  Nor  were 
the  camels  themselves  less  emphatic.  They  grinned;  they 
sniffed  ;  they  snorted  ;  they  snarled  ;  they  disputed  every 
foot  of  the  way.  As  for  mine  (a  gawky,  supercilious 
beast  with  a  bloodshot  eye  and  a  battered  Eoman  nose),  I 
never  heard  any  dumb  animal  make  use  of  so  much  bad 
language  in  my  life. 

The  last  hill  was  very  steep  and  stony ;  but  the  view 
from  the  top  was  magnificent.  We  had  now  gained  the 
highest  point  of  the  ridge  which  divides  the  valley  of  the 
Nile  from  the  Arabian  desert.  The  cataract,  widening 
away  reach  after  reach  and  studded  with  innumerable 
rocky  islets,  looked  more  like  a  lake  than  a  river.  Of  the 
Libyan  desert  we  could  see  nothing  beyond  the  opposite 
sand-slopes,  gold-rimmed  against  the  sunset.  The  Arabian 
desert,  a  boundless  waste  edged  by  a  serrated  line  of  pur- 
ple peaks,  extended  eastward  to  the  remotest  horizon.  We 
looked  down  upon  it  as  on  a  raised  map.  The  Moslem 
tombs,  some  five  hundred  feet  below,  showed  like  toys. 
To  the  right,  in  a  wide  valley  opening  away  southward, 
we  recognized  that  ancient  bed  of  the  Nile  which  serves 
for  the  great  highway  between  Egypt  and  Nubia.  At  the 
end  of  the  vista,  some  very  distant  palms  against  a  rocky 
background  pointed  the  way  to  Philae. 

Meanwhile  the  sun  was  fast  sinking  —  the  lights  were 
crimsoning  —  the  shadows  were  lengthening.  All  was 
silent ;  all  was  solitary.  We  listened,  but  could  scarcely 
hear  the  murmur  of  the  rapids.  We  looked  in  vain  for 
the  quarry  of  the  obelisk.  It  was  but  one  group  of  rocks 
among  scores  of  others,  and  to  distinguish  it  at  this  dis- 
tance was  impossible. 

Presently,  a  group  of  three  or  four  black  figures, 
mounted  on  little  gray  asses,  came  winding  in  and  out 
among  the  tombs,  and  took  the  road  to  Phila?.  To  us 
they  were  moving  specks;  but  our  lynx-eyed  camel  boys  at 
once  recognized  the  "  Sheik  el  Shelhil  "  (sheik  of  the  cata- 
ract) and   his  retinue.     More  dahabeeyahs   had  come  in; 


ASSUAN  AND  ELEPHANTINE.  175 

and  the  worthy  man,  having  spent  the  clay  in  Assuan 
visiting,  palavering,  bargaining,  whs  now  going  home  to 
Mahatta  for  the  night.  We  watched  the  retreating  riders 
for  some  minutes,  till  twilight  stole  up  the  ancient  channel 
like  a  flood  and  drowned  them  in  warm  shadows. 

The  after-glow  had  faded  off  the  heights  when  we  at 
length  crossed  the  last  ridge,  descended  the  last  hillside, 
and  regained  the  level  from  which  we  had  started.  Here  once 
more  we  met  the  Fostat  party.  They  had  ridden  to  Philae 
and  back  by  the  desert  and  were  apparently  all  the  worse 
for  wear.  Seeing  us  they  urged  their  camels  to  a  trot  and 
tried  to  look  as  if  they  liked  it.  The  idle  man  and  the 
writer  wreathed  their  countenances  in  ghastly  smiles  and 
did  likewise.  Not  for  worlds  would  they  have  admitted 
that  they  found  the  pace  difficult.  Such  is  the  moral  in- 
fluence of  the  camel.  He  acts  as  a  tonic;  he  promotes 
the  Spartan  virtues;  and  if  not  himself  heroic,  is,  at  least, 
the  cause  of  heroism  in  others. 

It  was  nearly  dark  when  we  reached  Assuan.  The  cafes 
were  all  alight  and  astir.  There  was  smoking  and  coffee- 
drinking  going  on  outside  ;  there  were  sounds  of  music 
and  laughter  within.  A  large  private  house  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  road  was  being  decorated  as  if  for  some  festive 
occasion.  Flags  were  flying  from  the  roof,  and  two  men 
were  busy  putting  up  a  gayly-painted  inscription  over  the 
doorway.  Asking,  as  was  natural,  if  there  was  a  marriage 
or  a  fantasia  afoot,  it  was  not  a  little  startling  to  be  told 
that  these  were  signs  of  mourning,  and  that  the  master  of 
the  house  had  died  during  the  interval  that  elapsed  between 
our  riding  out  and  riding  back  again. 

In  Egypt,  where  the  worship  of  ancestry  and  the  pres- 
ervation of  the  body  were  once  among  the  most  sacred  du- 
ties of  the  living,  they  now  make  short  work  with  their 
dead.  He  was  to  be  buried,  they  said,  to-morrow  morning, 
three  hours  after  sunrise. 


i:<;  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XI. 

THE   CATARACT   AND   THE    DESERT. 

At  Assuan  one  bids  good-by  to  Egypt  and  enters  Nubia 
through  the  gates  of  the  cataract — which  is,  in  truth,  no 
cataract  but  a  succession  of  rapids  extending  over  two- 
thirds  of  the  distance  between  Elephantine  and  Philse. 
The  Nile — diverted  from  its  original  course  by  some  unre- 
corded catastrophe,  the  nature  of  which  has  given  rise  to 
much  scientific  conjecture — here  spreads  itself  over  a  rocky 
basin  bounded  by  sand-slopes  on  the  one  side  and  by  gran- 
ite cliffs  on  the  other.  Studded  with  numberless  islets, 
divided  into  numberless  channels,  foaming  over  sunken 
rocks,  eddying  among  water-worn  bowlders,  now  shallow, 
now  deep,  now  loitering,  now  hurrryiug,  here  sleeping  in 
the  ribbed  hollow  of  a  tiny  sand-drift,  there  circling  above 
the  vortex  of  a  hidden  whirlpool,  the  river,  whether  looked 
upon  from  the  deck  of  the  dahabeeyah  or  the  heights  along 
the  shore,  is  seen  everywhere  to  be  fighting  its  way  through 
a  labyrinth,  the  paths  of  which  have  never  yet  been  mapped 
or  sounded. 

Those  paths  are  everywhere  difficult  and  everywhere 
dangerous;  and  to  that  labyrinth  the  shellalee,  or  cataract 
Arab,  alone  possesses  the  key.  At  the  time  of  the  inunda- 
tion, when  all  but  the  highest  rocks  are  under  water  and 
navigation  is  as  easy  here  as  elsewhere,  the  shellalee's  oc- 
cupation is  gone.  But  as  the  floods  subside  and  travelers 
begin  to  reappear,  his  work  commences.  To  haul  daha- 
beeyahs  up  those  treacherous  rapids  by  sheer  stress  of  rope 
and  muscle;  to  steer  skillfully  down  again  through  channels 
bristling  with  rocks  and  boiling  with  foam,  becomes  now, 
for  some  five  months  of  the  year,  his  principal  industry. 
It  is  hard  work,  but  he  gets  well  paid  for  it,  and  his  profits 
are  always  on  the  increase.  From  forty  to  fifty  dahabee- 
yahs  are  annually  taken  up  between  November  and  March; 


THE  CA  TA  BA  CT  A  NT)  THE  D  ESEU  T.  177 

and  every  year  brings  a  larger  influx  of  travelers.  Mean- 
while, accidents  rarely  happen;  prices  tend  continually  up- 
ward; and  the  cataract-Arabs  make  a  little  fortune  by  their 
singular  monopoly.* 

The  scenery  of  the  first  cataract  is  like  nothing  else  in  the 
world — except  the  scenery  of  the  second.  It  is  altogether 
new,  and  strange,  and  beautiful.  It  is  incomprehensible 
that  travelers  should  have  written  of  it  in  general  with  so 
little  admiration.  They  seem  to  have  been  impressed  by 
the  wildness  of  the  waters,  by  the  quaint  forms  of  the 
rocks,  by  the  desolation  and  grandeur  of  the  landscape  as 
a  whole;  but  scarcely  at  all  by  its  beauty — which  is 
paramount. 

The  Nile  here  widens  to  a  lake.  Of  the  islands,  which 
it  would  hardly  be  an  exaggeration  to  describe  as  some 
hundreds  in  number,  no  two  are  alike.  Some  are  piled  up 
like  the  rocks  at  the  Land's  End  in  Cornwall,  block  upon 
block,  column  upon  column,  tower  upon  tower,  as  if 
reared  by  the  hand  of  man.  Some  are  green  with  grass; 
some  golden  with  slopes  of  drifted  sand;  some  planted  with 
rows  of  blossoming  lupins,  purple  and  white.  Others 
again  are  mere  cairns  of  loose  blocks,  with  here  and  there  a 
perilously  balanced  top-bowlder.  On  one,  a  singular 
upright  monolith,  like  a  menhir,  stands  conspicuous,  as  if 
placed  there  to  commemorate  a  date,  or  to  point  the  way 
to  Philae.  Another  mass  rises  out  of  the  water  squared 
and  buttressed,  in  the  likeness  of  a  fort.  A  third,  humped 
and  shining  like  the  wet  body  of  some  amphibious  beast, 
lifts  what  seems  to  be  a  horned  head  above  the  surface  of 
the  rapids.  All  these  blocks  and  bowlders  and  fantastic 
rocks  are  granite;  some  red,  some  purple,  some  black. 
Their  forms  are  rounded  by  the  friction  of  ages.  Those 
nearest  the  brink  reflect  the  sky  like  mirrors  of  burnished 
steel.  Royal  ovals  and  hieroglyphed  inscriptions,  fresh  as 
of  yesterday's  cutting,  start  out  here  and  there  from  those 
glittering  surfaces  with  startling  distinctness.  A  few  of 
the  larger  islands  are  crowned  with  clumps  of  palms;  and 

*  The  increase  of  steamer  traffic  bas  considerably  altered  tbe  con- 
ditions of  Nile  traveling  since  tbis  was  written,  and  fewer  dababee- 
yabs  are  consequently  employed.  By  tbose  wbo  can  afford  it,  and 
who  really  desire  to  get  tbe  utmost  pleasure,  instruction,  and  interest 
from  tbe  trip,  tbe  dababeeyab  will,  however,  always  be  preferred, 
[Note  to  second  edition.] 


178  A  THOUSAND  MILKS  UP  THE  NILE. 

one,  the  loveliest  of  any,  is  completely  embowered  in  gum- 
trees  and  acacias,  dom  and  date  palms,  and  feathery 
tamarisks,  all  festooned  together  under  a  hanging  canopy 
of  yellow-blossomed  creepers. 

On  a  brilliant  .Sunday  morning,  with  a  favorable  wind, 
we  entered  on  this  fairy  archipelago.  Sailing  steadily 
against  the  current,  we  glided  away  from  Assuan,  left 
Elephantine  behind,  and  found  ourselves  at  once  in  the 
midst  of  the  islands.  From  this  moment  every  turn  of  the 
tiller  disclosed  a  fresh  point  of  view,  and  we  sat  on  deck, 
spectators  of  a  moving  panorama.  The  diversity  of  sub- 
jects was  endless.  The  combinations  of  form  and  color,  of 
light  and  shadow,  of  foreground  and  distance,  were 
continually  changing.  A  boat  or  a  few  figures  alone  were 
wanting  to  complete  the  picturesqueness  of  the  scene;  but 
in  all  those  channels,  and  among  all  those  islands,  we  saw 
no  sign  of  any  living  creature. 

Meanwhile  the  sheik  of  the  cataract  —  a  flat-faced, 
fishy-eyed  old  Nubian,  with  his  head  tied  up  in  a  dingy 
yellow  silk  handkerchief — sat  apart  in  solitary  grandeur 
at  the  stern,  smoking  a  long  chibouque.  Behind  him 
squatted  some  five  or  six  dusky  strangers;  and  a  new  steers- 
man, black  as  a  negro,  had  charge  of  the  helm.  This  new 
steersman  was  our  pilot  for  Nubia.  From  Assuan  to  Wady 
Halfeh,  and  back  again  to  Assuan,  he  alone  was  now  held 
responsible  for  the  safety  of  the  dahabeeyah  and  all  on 
board. 

At  length  a  general  stir  among  the  crew  warned  us  of 
the  near  neighborhood  of  the  first  rapid.  Straight  ahead, 
as  if  ranged  along  the  dike  of  a  weir,  a  chain  of  small 
islets  barred  the  way;  while  the  current,  divided  into  three 
or  four  headlong  torrents,  came  rushing  down  the  slope, 
and  reunited  at  the  bottom  in  one  tumultuous  race. 

That  we  should  ever  get  the  Phila?  up  that  hill  of 
moving  water  seemed  at  first  sight  impossible.  Still  our 
steersman  held  on  his  course,  making  for  the  widest 
channel.  Still  the  sheik  smoked  imperturbably. 
Presently,  without  removing  the  pipe  from  his  mouth,  lie 
delivered  the  one  word — "  Roohh!"     "  Forward!" 

Instantly,  evoked  by  his  nod,  the  rocks  swarmed  with 
natives.  Hidden  till  now  in  all  sorts  of  unseen  corners, 
they  sprang  out  shouting,  gesticulating,  laden  with  coils  of 
rope,  leaping  into   the  thick  of  the  rapids,  splashing   like 


THE  CA  TARAGT  AND  THE  DESERT.  \  ]  9 

water-dogs,  bobbing  like  corks,  and  making  as  much  show 
of  energy  as  if  they  were  going  to  haul  us  up  Niagara. 
The  tiling  was  evidently  a  coup  tie  theatre,  like  the  appari- 
tion of  Clan  Alpine's  warriors  in  the  Donna  del  Lago — with 
backshish  in  the  background.  The  scene  that  followed 
was  curious  enough.  Two  rojies  were  carried  from  the 
dahabeeyah  to  the  nearest  island,  and  there  made  fast  to 
the  rocks.  Two  ropes  from  the  island  were  also  brought 
on  board  the  dahabeeyah.  A  double  file  of  men  on  deck, 
and  another  double  rile  on  shore,  then  ranged  themselves 
along  the  ropes;  the  sheik  gave  the  signal;  and,  to  a  wild 
chanting  accompaniment  and  a  movement  like  a  barbaric 
Sir  Roger  de  Coverley  dance,  a  system  of  double  hauling 
began,  by  means  of  which  the  huge  boat  slowly  and 
steadily  ascended.  We  may  have  been  a  quarter  of  an 
hour  going  up  the  incline;  though  it  seemed  much  longer. 
Meanwhile,  as  they  warmed  to  their  work,  the  men  chanted 
louder  and  pulled  harder,  till  the  boat  went  in  at  last  with 
a  rush,  and  swung  over  into  a  pool  of  comparatively 
smooth  water. 

Having  moored  here  for  an  hour's  rest,  we  next  repeated 
the  performance  against  a  still  stronger  current  a  little 
higher  up.  This  time,  however,  a  rope  broke.  Down 
went  the  haulers,  like  a  row  of  cards  suddenly  tipped 
over — round  swung  the  Phila?,  receiving  the  whole  rush  of 
the  current  on  her  beam!  Luckily  for  us,  the  other  rope 
held  fast  against  the  strain.  Had  it  also  broken,  we  must 
have  been  wrecked  then  and  there  ignominiously. 

Our  Nubian  auxiliaries  struck  work  after  this.  Fate, 
they  said,  was  adverse;  so  they  went  home,  leaving  us 
moored  for  the  night  in  the  pool  at  the  top  of  the  first 
rapid.  The  sheik  promised,  however,  that  his  people 
should  begin  work  next  morning  at  dawn,  and  get  us 
through  before  sunset.  Next  morning  came,  however,  and 
not  a  man  appeared  upon  the  scene.  At  about  midday 
they  began  dropping  in,  a  few  at  a  time;  hung  about  in  a 
languid,  lazy  way  for  a  couple  of  hours  or  so;  moved  us 
into  a  better  position  for  attacking  the  next  rapid;  and 
then  melted  away  mysteriously  by  twos  and  threes  among 
the  rocks,  and  were  no  more  seen. 

We  now  felt  that  our  time  and  money  were  being  reck- 
lessly squandered,  and  we  resolved  to  bear  it  no  longer. 
Our  painter  therefore  undertook  to  remonstrate  with  the 


180  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

sheik,  and  to  convince  him  of  the  error  of  his  ways.  The 
sheik  listened;  smoked;  shook  his  head;  replied  that  in 
the  cataract,  as  elsewhere,  there  were  lucky  and  unlucky 
days,  days  when  men  felt  inclined  to  work,  and  days  when 
they  felt  disinclined.  To-day  as  it  happened,  they  felt 
disinclined.  Being  reminded  that  it  was  unreasonable 
to  keep  us  three  days  going  up  five  miles  of  river,  and  that 
there  was  a  governor  at  Assuan  to  whom  we  should  appeal 
to-morrow  unless  the  work  went  on  in  earnest,  he  smiled, 
shrugged  his  shoulders,  and  muttered  something  about 
"destiny." 

Now  the  painter,  being  of  a  practical  turn,  had  compiled 
for  himself  a  little  vocabulary  of  choice  Arabic  maledic- 
tions, which  he  carried  in  his  note-book  for  reference  when 
needed.  Having  no  faith  in  its  possible  usefulness,  we 
were  amused  by  the  industry  with  which  he  was  constantly 
adding  to  this  collection.  We  looked  upon  it,  in  fact,  as 
a  harmless  pleasantry — just  as  we  looked  upon  his  pocket- 
revolver,  which  was  never  loaded  ;  or  his  brand-new 
fowling-piece,  which  he  was  never  known  to  fire. 

But  the  sheik  of  the  cataract  had  gone  too  far.  The 
fatuity  of  that  smile  would  have  exasperated  the  meekest 
of  men;  and  our  painter  was  not  the  meekest  of  men.  So 
he  whipped  out  his  pocket-book,  ran  his  finger  down  the 
line,  and  delivered  an  appropriate  quotation.  His  accent 
may  not  have  been  faultless;  but  there  could  be  no  mistake 
as  to  the  energy  of  his  style  or  the  vigor  of  his  language. 
The  effect  of  both  was  instantaneous.  The  sheik  sprang 
to  his  feet  as  if  he  had  been  shot — turned  pale  with  rage 
under  his  black  skin — vowed  the  Philae  might  stay  where 
she  was  till  doomsday,  for  aught  that  he  or  his  men  would 
do  to  help  her  a  foot  farther — bounded  into  his  own  rick- 
etty  sandal  and  rowed  away,  leaving  us  to  our  fate. 

We  stood  aghast.  It  was  all  over  with  us.  We  should 
never  see  Abou  Simbel  now — never  write  our  names  on 
the  Rock  of  Aboosir,  nor  slake  our  thirst  at  the  waters  of 
the  second  cataract.  What  was  to  be  done?  Must  the 
sheik  be  defied,  or  propitiated?  Should  we  appeal  to  the 
governor,  or  should  wTe  immolate  the  painter?  The  ma- 
jority were  for  immolating  the  painter. 

We  went  to  bed  that  night,  despairing  ;  but  lo  !  next 
morning  at  sunrise  appeared  the  sheik  of  the  cata- 
ract, all  smiles,  all  activity,  with  no  end  of  ropes  and  a 


THE  CA  TA  RA  CT  AND  THE  D  E8ER  T.  1  s  1 

force  of  two  hundred  men.  We  were  his  dearest  friends 
now.  The  painter  was  his  brother.  He  had  called  out 
the  ban  and  arriere  ban  of  the  cataract  in  our  service. 
There  was  nothing,  in  short,  that  he  would  not  do  to 
oblige  us. 

The  dragoman  vowed  that  he  had  never  seen  Nubians 
work  as  those  Nubians  worked  that  day.  They  fell  to  like 
giants,  tugging  away  from  morn  till  dewy  eve,  and  never 
giving  over  till  they  brought  us  round  the  last  corner  and 
up  the  last  rapid.  The  sun  had  set,  the  after-glow  had 
faded,  the  twilight  was  closing  in,  when  our  dahabeeyah 
slipped  at  last  into  level  water,  and  the  two  hundred,  with 
a  parting  shout,  dispersed  to  their  several  villages. 

We  were  never  known  to  make  light  of  the  painter's 
repertory  of  select  abuse  after  this.  If  that  note-book  of 
his  had  been  the  drowned  book  of  Prospero,  or  the  magical 
Papyrus  of  Thoth  fished  up  anew  from  the  bottom  of  the 
Nile,  we  could  not  have  regarded  it  with  a  respect  more 
nearly  bordering  upon  awe. 

Though  there  exists  no  boundary  line  to  mark  where 
Egypt  ends  and  Nubia  begins,  the  nationality  of  the  races 
dwelling  on  either  side  of  that  invisible  barrier  is  as  sharply 
defined  as  though  an  ocean  divided  them.  Among  the 
shellalee,  or  cataract  villagers,  one  comes  suddenly  into 
the  midst  of  a  people  that  have  apparently  nothing  in 
common  with  the  population  of  Egypt.  They  belong  to  a 
lower  ethnological  type,  and  they  speak  a  language  derived 
from  purely  African  sources.  Contrasting  with  our  Arab 
sailors  the  sulky-looking,  half-naked,  muscular  savages 
who  thronged  about  the  Philae  during  her  passage  up  the 
cataract,  one  could  not  but  perceive  that  they  are  to  this 
day  as  distinct  and  inferior  a  people  as  when  their  Egyp- 
tian conquerors,  massing  together  in  one  contemptuous 
epithet  all  nations  south  of  the  frontier,  were  wont  to  speak 
of  them  as  as  "  the  vile  race  of  Kush."  Time  has  done 
little  to  change  them  since  those  early  days.  Some  Arabic 
words  have  crept  into  their  vocabulary.  Some  modern 
luxuries — as  tobacco,  coffee,  soap,  and  gunpowder — have 
come  to  be  included  in  the  brief  catalogue  of  their  daily 
wants.  But  in  most  other  respects  they  are  living  to  this 
day  as  they  lived  in  the  time  of  the  Pharaohs  ;  cultivating 
lentils  and  durra,  brewing  barley  beer,  plaiting  mats  and 
baskets  of  stained  reeds,  tracing  rude  patterns  upon  bowls 


182  A  THOUSAND  MILKS  UP  TDK  NILE. 

of  gourd-rind,  flinging  the  javelin,  hurling  the  boomerang, 
fashioning  bucklers  of  crocodile-skin  and  bracelets  of  ivory, 
and  supplying  Egypt  with  henna.  The  dexterity  with 
which,  sitting  as  if  in  a  wager  boat,  they  balance  them- 
selves on  a  palm-log,  and  paddle  to  and  fro  about  the 
river,  is  really  surprising.  This  barbaric  substitute  for  a 
boat  is  probably  more  ancient  than  the  pyramids. 

Having  witnessed  the  passage  of  the  first  few  rapids,  we 
were  glad  to  escape  from  the  dahabeeyah  and  spend  our 
time  sketching  here  and  there  on  the  borders  of  the  desert 
and  among  the  villages  and  islands  round  about.  In  all 
Egypt  and  Nubia  there  is  no  scenery  richer  in  picturesque 
bits  than  the  scenery  of  the  cataract.  An  artist  might 
pass  a  winter  there,  and  not  exhaust  the  pictorial  wealth 
of  those  five  miles  which  divide  Assuan  from  Philse.  Of 
tortuous  creeks  shut  in  by  rocks  fantastically  piled — of 
sand-slopes  golden  to  the  water's  edge — of  placid  pools 
low-lying  in  the  midst  of  lupin-fields  and  tracts  of  tender 
barley — of  creaking  sakkiehs,  half-hidden  among  palms 
and  dropping  water  as  they  turn — of  mud  dwellings,  here 
clustered  together  in  hollows,  there  perched  separately  on 
heights  among  the  rocks,  and  perpetuating  to  this  day  the 
form  and  slope  of  Egyptian  pylons — of  rude  boats  drawn 
up  in  sheltered  coves,  or  going  to  pieces  high  and  dry  upon 
the  sands — of  water-washed  bowlders  of  crimson,  and 
black,  and  purple  granite,  on  which  the  wild  fowl  cluster 
at  midday  and  the  fisher  spreads  his  nets  to  dry  at  sunset 
— of  camels,  and  caravans,  and  camps  on  shore — of  cargo- 
boats  and  caugias  on  the  river — of  wild  figures  of  half- 
naked  athletes — of  dusky  women  decked  with  barbaric 
ornaments,  unveiled,  swift-gliding,  trailing  long  robes  of 
deepest  gentian  blue — of  ancient  crones,  and  little  naked 
children  like  live  bronzes — of  these,  and  a  hundred  other 
subjects,  in  infinite  variety  and  combination,  there  is  liter- 
ally no  end.  It  is  all  so  picturesque,  indeed,  so  biblical, 
so  poetical,  that  one  is  almost  in  danger  of  forgetting  that 
the  places  are  something  more  than  beautiful  backgrounds, 
and  that  the  people  are  not  merely  appropriate  figures 
placed  there  for  the  delight  of  sketchers,  but  are  made  of 
living  flesh  and  blood,  and  moved  by  hopes,  and  fears,  and 
sorrows,  like  our  own. 

Mahatta.  green  with  sycamores  and  tufted  palms, 
nestled  in  the  hollow  of  a  little  bay;  half-islanded  in   the 


THE  CARARACT  AND  THE  DESERT.  183 

rear  by  an  arm  of  backwater,  curved  and  glittering  like  tbe 
blade  of  a  Turkish  cimeter,  is  by  far  the  most  beautifully 
situated  village  on  the  Nile.  It  is  the  residence  of  the  prin- 
cipal sheik,  and,  if  one  may  say  so,  is  the  capital  of  the  cat- 
aract. The  houses  lie  some  way  back  from  the  river.  The 
bay  is  thronged  with  native  boats  of  all  sizes  and  colors. 
Men  and  camels,  women  and  children,  donkeys,  dogs,  mer- 
chandise and  temporary  huts,  put  together  with  poles  and 
matting,  crowd  the  sandy  shore.  It  is  Assuan  over  again, 
but  on  a  larger  scale.  The  shipping  is  tenfold  more 
numerous.  The  traders' camp  is  in  itself  a  village.  The 
beach  is  half  a  mile  in  length  and  a  quarter  of  a  mile  in 
the  slope  down  to  the  river.  Mahatta  is,  in  fact,  the  twin 
port  to  Assuan.  It  lies,  not  precisely  at  the  other  extremity 
of  the  great  valley  between  Assuan  and  Philse,  but  at  the 
nearest  accessible  point  above  the  cataract.  It  is  here  that 
the  Soudan  traders  disembark  their  goods  for  re-embarka- 
tion at  Assuan.  Such  ricketty,  barbaric-looking  craft  as 
these  Nubian  cangias  we  had  not  yet  seen  on  the  river. 
They  looked  as  old  and  obsolete  as  the  ark.  Some  had 
curious  carved  verandas  outside  the  cabin-entrance. 
Others  were  tilted  up  at  the  stern  like  Chinese  junks. 
Most  of  them  had  been  slavers  in  the  palmy  days  of  Defter- 
dar  Bey;  plying  then  as  now  between  Wady  Half  eh  and 
Mahatta,  discharging  their  human  cargoes  at  this  point  for 
re-shipment  at  Assuan;  and  rarely  passing  the  cataract, 
even  at  the  time  of  inundation.  If  their  wicked  old  tim- 
bers could  have  spoken  they  might  have  told  us  many  a 
black  and  bloody  tale. 

Going  up  through  the  village  and  palm  gardens,  and 
turning  off  in  a  northeasterly  direction  toward  the  desert, 
one  presently  comes  out  about  midway  of  that  valley  to 
which  I  have  made  allusion  more  than  once  already.  No 
one,  however  unskilled  in  physical  geography,  could  look 
from  end  to  end  of  that  huge  furrow  and  not  see  that  it  was 
once  a  river-bed.  We  know  not  for  how  many  tens  of 
thousands,  or  hundreds  of  thousands,  of  years  the  Nile 
may  have  held  on  its  course  within  those  original  bounds. 
Neither  can  we  tell  when  it  deserted  them.  It  is, 
however,  quite  certain  that  the  river  flowed  that  way 
within  historic  times;  that  is  to  say,  in  the  days  of 
Amenemhat  III  {circa  b.  c.  2800).     So  much  is  held  to  be 


184  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

proven  by  certain  inscriptions*  which  record  the  maximum 
height  of  the  inundation  at  Semneh  during  various  years 
of  that  king's  reign.  The  Nile  then  rose  in  Ethiopia  to  a 
level  some  twenty-seven  feet  in  excess  of  the  highest  point 
to  which  it  is  ever  known  to  attain  at  the  present  day.  I 
am  not  aware  what  relation  the  height  of  this  ancient  bed 
bears  to  the  levels  recorded  at  Semneh,  or  to  those  now 
annually  self-registered  upon  the  furrowed  banks  of  Philae; 
but  one  sees  at  a  glance,  without  aid  of  measurements  or 
hydrographic  science,  that  if  the  river  were  to  come  down 
again  next  summer  in  a  mighty  "bore,"  the  crest  of  which 
rose  twenty-seven  feet  above  the  highest  ground  now  fer- 
tilized by  the  annual  overflow,  it  would  at  once  refill  its 
long-deserted  bed  and  convert  Assuan  into  an  island. 

Granted,  then,  that  the  Nile  flowed  through  the  desert 
in  the  time  of  Amenemhat  III,  there  must  at  some  later 
period  have  come  a  day  when  it  suddenly  ran  dry.  This 
catastrophe  is  supposed  to  have  taken  place  about  the 
time  of  the  expulsion  of  the  Ilvksos  {circa  B.C.  1703), 
when  a  great  disruption  of  the  rocky  barrier  at  Silsilis  is 
thought  to  have  taken  place;  so  draining  Nubia,  which  till 

*  "The  most  important  discovery  which  we  have  made  here,  and 
which  I  shall  only  mention  briefly,  is  a  series  of  short  rock  inscrip- 
tions, which  mark  the  highest  rises  of  the  Nile  during  a  series  of 
years  under  the  government  of  Amenemhat  III  and  of  his  immediate 
successors.  .  .  .  They  proved  that  the  river,  above  four  thou- 
sand years  ago,  rose  more  than  twenty-four  feet  higher  than  now, 
and  therel>y  must  have  produced  totally  different  conditions  in  the 
inundation  and  in  the  whole  surface  of  the  ground,  both  above  and 
below  this  spot." — Lepsius1  Letter*  from  Egypt,  etc.  Letter  xxvi. 

"The  highest  rise  of  the  Nile  in  each  year  at  Semneh  was  regis- 
tered by  a  mark  indicating  the  year  of  the  king's  reign,  cut  in  the 
granite,  either  on  one  of  the  blocks  forming  the  foundation  of  the 
fortress  or  on  the  cliff,  and  particularly  on  the  east  or  right  bank,  as 
best  adapted  for  the  purpose.  Of  these  markings  eighteen  still  remain, 
thirteen  of  them  having  been  made  in  the  reign  of  Moeris  (Amenem- 
hat III)  and  five  in  the  time  of  his  next  two  successsors.  .  .  .  We 
have  here  presented  to  us  the  remarkable  facts  that  the  highest  of 
the  records  now  legible,  viz:  that  of  the  thirtieth  year  of  the  reign  of 
Amenemhat,  according  to  exact  measurements  which  I  made,  is  8.17 
meters  (twenty-six  feet  eight  inches)  higher  than  the  highest  level  to 
which  the  Nile  rises  in  years  of  the  greatest  floods;  and,  further, 
that  the  lowest  mark,  which  is  on  the  east  bank,  and  indicated  the 
fifteenth  year  of  the  same  king,  is  still  4.14  meters  (thirteen  feet  six 
and  a  half  inches);  and  the  single  mark  on  the  west  bank,  indicating 
the  ninth  year,  is  2.77  meters  (nine  feet)  above  the  highest  level." — 
Lepsius'  Letter  to  Professor  Ehrenburg.     See  Appendix  to  the  above. 


THE  CAR  All  ACT  AND  THE  DESERT.  185 

now  had  played  the  part  of  a  vast  reservoir,  and  dispersing 
the  pent-up  floods  over  the  plains  of  Southern  Egypt. 
It  would,  however,  be  a  mistake  to  conclude  that  the  Nile 
was  by  this  catastrophe  turned  aside  in  order  to  be  precip- 
itated in  the  direction  of  the  cataract.  One  arm  of  the 
river  must  always  have  taken  the  present  lower  and  deeper 
course;  while  the  other  must  of  necessity  have  run  low — 
perhaps  very  nearly  dry — as  the  inundation  subsided  every 
spring. 

There  remains  no  monumental  record  of  this  event;  but 
the  facts  speak  for  themselves.  The  great  channel  is 
there.  The  old  Nile  mud  is  there — buried  for  the  most 
part  in  sand,  but  still  visible  on  many  a  rocky  shelf  and 
plateau  between  Assuan  and  Philae.  There  are  even  places 
where  the  surface  of  the  mass  is  seen  to  be  scooped  out,  as 
if  by  the  sudden  rush  of  the  departing  waters.  Since  that 
time,  the  tides  of  war  and  commerce  have  flowed  in  their 
place.  Every  conquering  Thothmes  and  Pamcses  bound 
for  the  land  of  Kush,  led  his  armies  that  way.  Sabacon, 
at  the  head  of  his  Ethiopian  hordes,  took  that  short  cut  to 
the  throne  of  all  the  Pharaohs.  The  French  under 
Desaix,  pursuing  the  Memlooks  after  the  battle  of  the 
pyramids,  swept  down  that  pass  to  Philae.  Meanwhile  the 
whole  trade  of  the  Soudan,  however  interrupted  at  times 
by  the  ebb  and  flow  of  war,  has  also  set  that  way.  We 
never  crossed  those  five  miles  of  desert  without  encounter- 
ing a  train  or  two  of  baggage-camels  laden  either  with 
European  goods  for  the  far  south,  or  with  oriental  treasures 
for  the  north. 

I  shall  not  soon  forget  an  Abyssinian  caravan  which  we 
met  one  day  just  coming  out  from  Mahatta.  It  consisted 
of  seventy  camels  laden  with  elephant  tusks.  The  tusks, 
which  were  about  fourteen  feet  in  length,  were  packed  in 
half-dozens  and  sewed  up  in  buffalo  hides.  Each  camel 
was  slung  with  two  loads,  one  at  either  side  of  the  hump. 
There  must  have  been  about  eight  hundred  and  forty  tusks 
in  all.  Beside  each  shambling  beast  strode  a  bare-footed 
Nubian.  Following  these,  on  the  back  of  a  gigantic 
camel,  came  a  hunting-leopard  in  a  wooden  cage  and  a 
wildcat  in  a  basket.  Last  of  all  marched  a  coal-black 
Abyssinian  nearly  seven  feet  in  height,  magnificently 
shawled  and  turbaned,  with  a  huge  cimeter  dangling  by 
his  side  and  in  his  belt  a  pair  of  enormous  inlaid  seven- 


186  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

teentli-century  pistols,  such  as  would  have  heconie  the 
holsters  of  Prince  Rupert.  This  elaborate  warrior  repre- 
sented the  guard  of  the  caravan.  The  hunting-leopard 
and  the  wildcat  were  for  Prince  Hassan,  the  third  son  of 
the  viceroy.  The  ivory  was  for  exportation.  Anything 
more  picturesque  than  this  procession,  with  the  dust  driv- 
ing before  it  in  clouds  and  the  children  following  it  out  of 
the  village,  it  would  be  difficult  to  conceive.  One  longed 
for  Gerome  to  paint  it  on  the  spot. 

The  rocks  on  either  side  of  the  ancient  river-bed  are 
profusely  hieroglyphed.  These  inscriptions,  together  with 
others  found  in  the  adjacent  quarries,  range  over  a  period 
of  between  three  and  four  thousand  years,  beginning  with 
the  early  reigns  of  the  ancient  empire  and  ending  with 
the  Ptolemies  and  Caesars.  Some  are  mere  autographs. 
Others  run  to  a  considerable  length.  Many  are  headed 
with  figures  of  gods  and  worshipers.  These,  however,  are 
for  the  most  part  mere  graffiti,  ill-drawn  and  carelessly 
sculptured.  The  records  they  illustrate  are  chiefly  votive. 
The  passer-by  adores  the  gods  of  the  cataract;  implores 
their  protection  ;  registers  his  name  and  states  the  object 
of  his  journey.  The  votaries  are  of  various  ranks,  periods, 
and  nationalities;  but  the  formula  in  most  instances  is 
pretty  much  the  same.  Now  it  is  a  citizen  of  Thebes  per- 
forming the  pilgrimage  to  Phila? ;  or  a  general  at  the  head 
of  his  troops  returning  from  a  foray  in  Ethiopia  ;  or  a 
tributary  prince  doing  homage  to  Rameses  the  Great,  and 
associating  his  suzerain  with  the  divinities  of  the  place. 
Occasionally  we  come  upon  a  royal  cartouche  and  a  pomp- 
ous catalogue  of  titles,  setting  forth  how  the  Pharaoh  him- 
self, the  Golden  Hawk,  the  Son  of  Ra,  the  Mighty,  the 
Invincible,  the  Godlike,  passed  that  way. 

It  is  curious  to  see  how  royalty,  so  many  thousand  years 
ago,  set  the  fashion  in  names,  just  as  it  does  to  this  day. 
Nine-tenths  of  the  ancient  travelers  who  left  their  signa- 
tures upon  these  rocks  were  called  Rameses  or  Thothmes  or 
Usertasen.  Others,  still  more  ambitious,  took  the  names 
of  gods.  Ampere,  who  hunted  diligently  for  inscriptions 
both  here  and  among  the  islands,  found  the  autographs  of 
no  end  of  merely  mortal  Aniens  and  Hathors.* 

*  For  copies  and  translations  of  a  large  number  of  the  graffiti  of 
Assuan,  see  Lepsius'  "Denkmaler;"  also,  for  the  most  recent  and 
the  fullest  collection  of  the  rock-cut  inscriptions  of  Assuan  and  its 


THE  GARARACT  AND  THE  DESERT.  18? 

Our  three  days'  detention  in  the  cataract  was  followed 
by  a  fourth  of  glossy  calm.  There  being  no  breath  of  air 
to  fill  our  sails  and  no  footing  for  the  trackers,  we  could 
now  get  along  only  by  dint  of  hard  punting;  so  that  it  was 
past  midday  before  the  Philse  lay  moored  at  last  in  the 
shadow  of  the  holy  island  to  which  she  owed  her  name. 

neighborhood,  including  the  hitherto  uncopied  inscriptions  of  the 
Saba  Rigaleh  Valley,  of  Elephantine,  of  the  rocks  above  Silsileh,  etc., 
etc.,  see  Mr.  W.  M.  Flinders  Petrie's  latest  volume,  entitled  "A 
Season's  Work  in  Egypt,  1877,"  published  by  Field  &  Tuer,  1888. 
[Note  to  second  edition.] 


188  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XII. 

PHIL.E. 

Having  been  for  so  many  clays  within  easy  reach  of 
Philaj,  it  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  we  were  content  till  now 
with  only  an  occasional  glimpse  of  its  towers  in  the  dis- 
tance. On  the  contrary,  we  had  found  our  way  thither 
toward  the  close  of  almost  every  day's  excursion.  We  had 
approached  it  by  land  from  the  desert;  by  water  in  the  fe- 
lucca; from  Mahatta  by  way  of  the  path  between  the  cliffs 
and  the  river.  When  I  add  that  we  moored  here  for  a 
night  and  the  best  part  of  two  days  on  our  way  up  the 
river,  and  again  for  a  week  when  we  came  down,  it  will  be, 
seen  that  we  had  time  to  learn  the  lovely  island  by  heart. 

The  approach  by  water  is  quite  the  most  beautiful.  Seen 
from  the  level  of  a  small  boat,  the  island,  with  its  palms, 
its  colonnades,  its  pylons,  seems  to  rise  out  of  the  river  like 
a  mirage.  Piled  rocks  frame  it  in  on  either  side,  and  pur- 
ple mountains  close  up  the  distance.  As  the  boat  glides 
nearer  between  glistening  bowlders,  those  sculptured  tow- 
ers rise  higher  and  ever  higher  against  the  sky.  They 
show  no  sign  of  ruin  or  of  age.  All  looks  solid,  stately, 
perfect.  One  forgets  for  the  moment  that  anything  is 
changed.  If  a  sound  of  antique  chanting  were  to  be  borne 
along  the  quiet  air — if  a  procession  of  white-robed  priests 
bearing  aloft  the  veiled  ark  of  the  god  were  to  come 
sweeping  round  between  the  palms  and  the  pylons — we 
should  not  think  it  strange. 

Most  travelers  land  at  the  end  nearest  the  cataract;  so 
coming  upon  the  principal  temple  from  behind  and  seeing 
it  in  reverse  order.  We,  however,  bid  our  Arabs  row 
round  to  the  southern  end,  where  was  once  a  stately  land- 
ing-place with  steps  down  to  the  river.  We  skirt  the  steep 
banks  and  pass  close  under  the  beautiful  little  roofless  tem- 
ple commonly  known  as  Pharaoh's  bed — that  temple  which 


PH1LM  189 

lias  been  so  often  painted,  so  often  photographed,  that 
every  stone  of  it,  and  the  platform  on  which  it  stands,  and 
the  tufted  palms  that  cluster  round  about  it,  have  been 
since  childhood  as  familiar  to  our  mind's  eye  as  the  sphinx 
or  the  pyramids.  It  is  larger,  but  not  one  jot  less  beauti- 
ful than  we  had  expected.  And  it  is  exactly  like  the  pho- 
tographs. Still,  one  is  conscious  of  perceiving  a  shade  of 
difference  too  subtle  for  analysis;  like  the  difference  between 
a  familiar  face  and  the  reflection  of  it  in  a  looking-glass. 
Anyhow,  one  feels  that  the  real  Pharaoh's  bed  will  hence- 
forth displace  the  photographs  in  that  obscure  mental 
pigeon-hole  where  till  now  one  has  been  wont  to  store  the 
well-known  image;  and  that  even  the  photographs  have 
undergone  some  kind  of  change. 

And  now  the  corner  is  rounded;  and  the  river  widens 
away  southward  between  mountains  and  palm-groves;  and 
the  prow  touches  the  debris  of  a  ruined  quay.  The  bank 
is  steep  here.  We  climb,  and  a  wonderful  scene  opens 
before  our  eyes.  We  are  standing  at  the  lower  end  of  a 
court-yard  leading  up  to  the  propylons  of  the  great  temple. 
The  court-yard  is  irregular  in  shape  and  inclosed  on  either 
side  by  covered  colonnades.  The  colonnades  are  of  un- 
equal lengths  and  set  at  different  angles.  One  is  simply  a 
covered  walk;  the  other  opens  upon  a  row  of  small  cham- 
bers, like  a  monastic  cloister  opening  upon  a  row  of  cells. 
The  roofing-stones  of  these  colonnades  are  in  part  dis- 
placed, while  here  and  there  a  pillar  or  a  capital  is  missing; 
but  the  twin  towers  of  the  propylon,  standing  out  in  sharp, 
unbroken  lines  against  the  sky  and  covered  with  colossal 
sculptures,  are  as  perfect,  or  very  nearly  as  perfect,  as  in 
the  days  of  the  Ptolemies  who  built  them. 

The  broad  area  between  the  colonnades  is  honeycombed 
with  crude  brick  foundations — vestiges  of  a  Coptic  village 
of  early  Christian  time.  Among  these  we  thread  our  way 
to  the  foot  of  the  principal  propylon,  the  entire  width 
of  which  is  one  hundred  and  twenty  feet.  The  towers 
measure  sixty  feet  from  base  to  parapet.  These  dimensions 
are  insignificant  for  Egypt;  yet  the  propylon,  which  would 
look  small  at  Luxor  or  Karnak,  does  not  look  small  at 
Philse.  The  key-note  here  is  not  magnitude,  but  beauty. 
The  island  is  small — that  is  to  say,  it  covers  an  area  about 
equal  to  the  summit  of  the  Acropolis  at  Athens;  and  the 
scale  of  the  buildiugs  has  been  determined   by  the  size  of 


190  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  island.  As  at  Athens,  the  ground  is  occupied  by  one 
principal  temple  of  moderate  size  and  several  subordinate 
chapels.  Perfect  grace,  exquisite  proportion,  most  varied 
and  capricious  grouping,  here  take  the  place  of  massive- 
ness;  so  lending  to  Egyptian  forms  an  irregularity  of 
treatment  that  is  almost  gothic  and  a  lightness  that  is 
almost  Greek. 

And  now  we  catch  glimpses  of  an  inner  court,  of  a 
second  propylon,  of  a  pillared  portico  beyond  ;  while, 
looking  up  to  the  colossal  bas-reliefs  above  our  heads,  we 
see  the  usual  mystic  form  of  kings  and  deities,  crowned, 
enthroned,  worshiping  and  worshiped.  These  sculptures, 
which  at  first  sight  looked  no  less  perfect  than  the  towers, 
prove  to  be  as  laboriously  mutilated  as  those  of  Denderah. 
The  hawk-head  of  Horus  and  the  cow-head  of  Ilathor  have 
here  and  there  escaped  destruction;  but  the  human-faced 
deities  are  literally  "sans  eyes,  sans  nose,  sans  ears,  sans 
everything." 

We  enter  the  inner  court  —  an  irregular  quadrangle 
inclosed  on  the  east  by  an  open  colonnade,  on  the  west  by 
a  chapel  fronted  with  Hathor-headed  columns,  and  on  the 
north  and  south  sides  by  the  second  and  first  propylons. 
In  this  quadrangle  a  cloisteral  silence  reigns.  The  blue  sky 
burns  above — the  shadows  sleep  below — a  tender  twilight 
lies  about  our  feet.  Inside  the  chapel  there  sleeps  per- 
petual gloom.  It  was  built  by  Ptolemy  Euergetes  II,  and 
is  one  of  that  order  to  which  Champollion  gave  the  name 
of  Mammisi.  It  is  a  most  curious  place,  dedicated  to 
Ilathor  and  commemorative  of  the  nurture  of  Horus.  On 
the  blackened  walls  within,  dimly  visible  by  the  faint  light 
which  struggles  through  screen  and  doorway,  we  see  Isis, 
the  wife  and  sister  of  Osiris,  giving  birth  to  Horus.  On 
the  screen  panels  outside  we  trace  the  story  of  his  infancy, 
education,  and  growth.  As  a  babe  at  the  breast,  he  is 
nursed  in  the  lap  of  Ilathor,  the  divine  foster-mother.  As 
a  young  child,  he  stands  at  his  mother's  knee  and  listens 
to  the  playing  of  a  female  harpist  (we  saw  a  bare-footed 
boy  the  other  day  in  Cairo  thrumming  upon  a  harp  of  just 
the  same  shape  and  with  precisely  as  many  strings);  as  a 
youth,  he  sows  grain  in  honor  of  Isis  and  offers  a  jeweled 
collar  to  Ilathor.  This  Isis,  with  her  long  aquiline  nose, 
thin  lips,  and  haughty  aspect,  looks  like  one  of  the  compli- 
mentary portraits  so  often  introduced  among  the  temple- 


PHILufl.  191 

sculptures  of  Egypt.  It  may  represent  one  of  the  two 
Cleopatras  wedded  to  Ptolemy  Physcon. 

Two  greyhounds  with  collars  round  their  necks  are 
sculptured  on  the  outer  wall  of  another  small  chapel 
adjoining.  These  also  look  like  portraits.  Perhaps  they 
were  the  favorite  dogs  of  some  high  priest  of  Philge. 

Close  against  the  greyhounds  and  upon  the  same  wall- 
space,  is  engraven  that  famous  copy  of  the  inscription  of 
the  Rosetta  stone  first  observed  here  by  Lepsius  in  a.d. 
1843.  It  neither  stands  so  high  nor  looks  so  illegible  as 
Ampere  (with  all  the  jealousy  of  a  Champollionist  and  a 
Frenchman)  is  at  such  pains  to  make  out.  One  would 
have  said  that  it  was  in  a  state  of  more  than  ordinary  good 
preservation. 

As  a  reproduction  of  the  Rosetta  decree,  however,  the 
Philre  version  is  incomplete.  The  Eosetta  text,  after 
setting  forth  with  official  pomposity  the  victories  and 
munificence  of  the  king — Ptolemy  V,  the  ever-living,  the 
avenger  of  Egypt — concludes  by  ordaining  that  the  record 
thereof  shall  be  engraven  in  hieroglyphic,  demotic,  and 
Greek  characters,  and  set  up  in  all  temples  of  the  first, 
second,  and  third  class  throughout  the  empire.  Broken 
and  battered  as  it  is,   the  precious  black  basalt*  of  the 

*  Mariette,  at  the  end  of  his  "  Apercu  de  l'histoire  d'Egypte," 
give  the  following  succint  account  of  the  Rosetta  stone  and  the  dis- 
covery of  Champollion: 

"  Decouverte,  il  y  a  65  ans  environ,  par  des  soldats  francais  qui 
creusaient  un  retranchement  pres  d'une  redoute  situee  a  Rosette,  la 
pierre  qui  porte  ce  nom  a  joue  le  plus  grand  role  dans  l'archeologie 
Egyptienne.  Sur  la  face  principale  sont  gravees  trois  inscriptions. 
Les  deux  premieres  sont  en  langue  Egyptienne  et  ecrites  dans  les 
deux  ecritures  qui  avaient  cours  ii  cette  epoque.  L'une  est  en 
ecriture  hieroglyphique  n'servee  aux  pretres:  elle  ne  conipte  plus  que 
14  lignes  tronquees  par  la  brisure  de  la  pierre.  L 'autre  est  en  une 
ecriture  cursive  appliquee  principalement  aux  usges  du  peuple  et 
comprise  par  lui:  celle-ci  off  re  32  lignes  de  texte.  Enfin,  la  troisieme 
inscription  de  la  stele  est  en  langue  grecque  et  comprend  54  lignes. 
C'est  dans  cette  derniere  partie  (pie  reside  l'interet  du  monument 
trouve  a  Rosette.  II  resulte,  en  effet,  de  l'interpretation  du  texte 
grec  dela  stele  que  ce  texte  n'est  qu'une  version  de  l'original  transcrit 
plusthaut  dans  les  deux  ecritures  Egyptiennes.  La  Pierre  de  Rosette 
nous  donne  done,  dans  une  langue  parfaitement  conuue  (le 
grec)  la  traduction  d'un  texte  coneu  dans  une  autre  langue  encore 
ignoree  an  moment  ou  la  stele  a  ete  decouverte.  Qui  ne  voit  l'utilite 
de  cette  mention?  Remonter  du  connu  a  l'inconnu  n'est  pas  une 
operation  en  dehors  des  inoyens  d'une  critique  prudente,  et   deja  Ton 


192  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

British  Museum  fulfills  these  conditions.  The  three 
writings  are  there.  But  at  Philse,  though  the  original 
hieroglyphic  and  demotic  texts  are  reproduced  almost 
verbatim,  the  priceless  Greek  transcript  is  wanting.  It  is 
provided  for,  as  upon  the  Rosetta  stone,  in  the  preamble. 
Space  has  been  left  for  it  at  the  bottom  of  the  tablet.  We 
even  fancied  we  could  here  and  there  distinguish  traces  of 
red  ink  where  the  lines  should  come.  But  not  one  word 
of  it  has  ever  been  cut  into  the  surface  of  the  stone. 

Taken  by  itself,  there  is  nothing  strange  in  this  omis- 
sion; but,  taken  in  connection  with  a  precisely  similar 
omission  in  another  inscription  a  few  yards  distant,  it  be- 
comes something  more  than  a  coincidence. 

devine  que  si  la  Pierre  de  Rosette  a  acquis  dans  la  science  la  celebrite 
dont  elle  jouit  aujourd'hui,  c'est  qu'elle  a  fourni  la  vraie  clef  de 
cette  rnysterieuse  ecriture  dont  l'Egypte  a  si  longtemps  garde  le 
secret.  II  ne  faudrait  pas  croire  cependant  que  le  dechiffrement  des 
hieroglyphesau  moyen  de  la  Pierre  de  Rosette  ait  ete  obtenu  du  premier 
coup  et  sans  tatonnements.  Bien  an  contraire,  les  savants  s'y  essa- 
yerent  sans  succes  pendant  20  ans.  Entin,  Okampollion  parut. 
Jusqu'a  lui,  on  avait  cru  que  chacune  des  lettres  qui  coinposent 
l'ecriture  hieroglyphique  etait  un  symbolej  c'est  a  dire,  que  dans  une 
seule  de  ces  lettres  etait  exprimee  une  idee  complete.  Le;  inerite  de 
Champollion  ete  de  prouver  qu'au  contraire  l'ecriture  Egyptienne 
contient  des  signes  qui  expriment  veritablement  des  sons.  En 
d'autres  termes  qu'elle  est  Alphabetique.  U  remarqua,  par  exemple, 
que  partout  ou  dans  le  texte  grec  de  Rosette  se  trouve  le  nom  propre 
Ptolemee,  on  recontre  a  l'eudroit  correspondant  du  texte  Egyptien  un 
certain  nombre  de  signes  enfermes  dans  un  encadrement  elliptique. 
II  en  conclut:  1°,  que  les  noms  des  rois  etaient  dans  le  systeme  hiero 
glyphique  signales  a  l'attention  par  une  sorte  d'ecusson  qu'il  appela 
cartouche:  2  ,  que  les  signes  contenus  dans  cet  ecusson  devaient  etre 
lettre  pour  lettre  le  nom  de  Ptolemee.  Deja  done  en  supposant  les 
voyelles  omises,  Champollion  etait  en  possession  de  cinq  lettres — P, 
T,  L,  M,  S.  D'un  autre  cote,  Champollion  savait,  d'apres  une 
seconde  inscription  grecque  gravee  sur  une  obelisque  de  Philse,  que 
sur  cet  obelisque  un  cartouche  hieroglyphique  qu'on  y  voit  devait 
etre  celui  de  Cleopatre.  Si  sa  premiere  lecture  etait  juste,  le  P,  leL, 
et  le  T,  de  Ptolemee  devaient  seretrouver  dans  le  second  nom  propre; 
mais  en  meme  temps  ce  second  nom  propre  fournissait  un  K  et  un  R 
nouveaux.  Eufin,  applique  a  d'autres  cartouches,  l'alphabet  encore 
tres  imparfait  revele  a  Champollion  par  les  noms  de  Cleopatre  et  de 
Ptolemee  le  mit  en  possession  d'a  peu  pres  toutes  les  autres  con- 
sonnes.  Comme  pronunciation  des  signes,  Champollion  n'avait  done 
pas  a  hesiter,  et  des  le  jour  ou  cette  constatatmn  eut  lieu,  il  put  cer- 
tifier qu'il  etait  en  possession  de  l'alphabet  Egyptien.  Mais  restait 
la  langue;  car  prononcer  des  mots  n'est  rien  si  Ton  ne  sait  pas  ce  que 
ces  mots  veuleut  dire.     Ici  le  genie  de  Champollion  se  donna  libre 


PIIIL^J.  193 

This  second  inscription  is  cut  upon  the  face  of  a  block 
of  living  rock  which  forms  part  of  the  foundation  of  the 
easternmost  tower  of  the  second  propylon.  Having  enumer- 
ated certain  grants  of  land  made  to  the  temple  by 
Ptolemies  VI  and  VIE,  it  concludes,  like  the  first,  by  de- 
creeing that  this  record  of  the  royal  bounty  shall  be  en- 
graven in  the  hieroglyphic,  demotic  and  Greek;  that  is  to 
say:  in  the  ancient  sacred  writing  of  the  priests,  the  ordi- 
nary script  of  the  people,  and  the  language  of  the  court. 
But  here  again  the  sculptor  has  left  his  work  unfinished. 
Here  again  the  inscription  breaks  off  at  the  end  of  the  de- 
motic, leaving  a  blank  space  for  the  third  transcript.  This 
second  omission  suggests  intentional  neglect;  and  the  mo- 
tive for  such  neglect  would  not  be  far  to  seek.  The  tongue 
of  the  dominant  race  is  likely  enough  to  have  been  unpop- 

cours.  II  s'apercut  en  effet  que  son  alphabet  tire  des  noms  propres 
et  applique  aux  mots  de  la  langue  donnait  tout  simplement  du  Copte. 
Or,  le  Copte  a  son  tour  est  une  langue  qui,  sans  etre  aussi  exploree 
que  le  grec,  n'en  etait  pas  moins  depuis  longteinps  accessible.  Cette 
t'ois  le  voileetait  done  completement  leve.  La  langue  Egyptienne 
n'est  que  du  Copte  ecrit  en  kieroglypb.es;  ou,  pour  parler  plusexacte- 
ment,  le  Copte  n'est  que  la  langue  des  anciens  Pharaons,  ecrite, 
comme  nous  l'avons  dit  plus  haut,  en  lettres  grecques.  Le  reste  se 
devine.  D'indices  en  indices,  Champollion  proceda  veritablement  du 
connu  a  l'inconnu,  et  bientot  l'illustre  fondateur  de  l'Egyptologie  put 
poser  les  fondements  de  cette  belle  science  qui  a  pour  objet  ['inter- 
pretation des  hieroglypb.es.  Tel  est  la  Pierre  de  Rosette." — "  Apercu 
de  l'Histoire  d'Egypte:"  Mariette  Bey,  p.  189  et  seq.:  1872. 

In  order  to  have  done  witb  tbis  subject,  it  may  be  as  well  to  men- 
tion that  anotber  trilingual  tablet  was  found  by  Mariette  while  con- 
ducting his  excavations  at  San  (Tanis)  in  1865.  It  dates  from  the 
ninth  year  of  Ptolemy  Euergetes,  and  the  text  ordains  the  deifica- 
tion of  Berenice,  a  daughter  of  the  king,  then  just  dead  (b.  c.  254). 
This  stone,  preserved  in  the  museum  at  Boulak,  is  known  as  the 
stone  of  San,  or  the  decree  of  Canopus.  Had  the  Kosetta  stone 
never  been  discovered,  we  may  fairly  conclude  that  the  Canopic 
degree  would  have  furnished  some  later  Champollion  with  the  nec- 
essary key  to  hieroglyphic  literature,  and  that  the  great  discovery 
would  only  have  been  deferred  till  the  present  time. 

Note  to  Second  Edition. — A  third  copy  of  the  decree  of  Canopus, 
the  text  engraved  in  hieroglyphs  only,  was  found  at  Tell  Nebireh  in 
1885,  and  conveyed  to  the  Boulak  Museum.  The  discoverer  of  this 
tablet,  however,  missed  a  much  greater  discovery,  reserved,  as  it 
happened,  for  Mr.  W.  M.  F.  Petrie,  who  came  to  the  spot  a  month 
or  two  later,  and  found  that  the  mounds  of  Tell  Nebireh  entombed 
the  remains  of  the  famous  and  long-lost  Greek  city  of  Naukratis. 
See  "Naukratis,"  Part  I.  by  W.M.  F.  Petrie,  published  by  the  Egypt 
Exploration  Fund,  1880. 


194  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

U'lar  among  the  old  noble  and  sacerdotal  families;  and  it 
may  well  be  that  the  priesthood  of  Phila?,  secure  in  their 
distant  solitary  isle,  could  with  impunity  evade  a  clause 
which  their  brethren  of  the  Delta  were  obliged  to  obey. 

It  does  not  follow  that  the  Greek  rule  was  equally  un- 
popular. We  have  reason  to  believe  quite  otherwise.  The 
conqueror  of  the  Persian  invader  was  in  truth  the  deliverer 
of  Egypt.  Alexander  restored  peace  to  the  country  and 
the  Ptolemies  identified  themselves  with  the  interests  of 
the  people.  A  dynasty  which  not  only  lightened  the  bur- 
dens of  the  poor,  but  respected  the  privileges  of  the  rich; 
which  honored  the  priesthood,  endowed  the  temples,  and 
compelled  the  Tigris  to  restore  the  spoils  of  the  Nile, 
could  scarcely  fail  to  win  the  suffrages  of  all  classes.  The 
priests  of  Phila?  might  despise  the  language  of  Homer 
while  honoring  the  descendants  of  Philip  of  Macedon. 
They  could  naturalize  the  king.  They  could  disguise  his 
name  in  hieroglyphic  spelling.  They  could  depict  him  in 
the  traditional  dress  of  the  Pharaohs.  They  could  crown  him 
with  the  double  crown,  and  represent  him  in  the  act  of 
worshiping  the  gods  of  his  adopted  country.  But  they 
could  neither  naturalize  nor  disguise  his  language.  Spoken 
or  written,  it  was  an  alien  thing.  Oarven  in  high  places,  it 
stood  for  a  badge  of  servitude.  What  could  a  conservative 
hierarchy  do  but  abhor,  and,  when  possible,  ignore  it? 

There  are  other  sculptures  in  this  quadrangle  which  one 
would  like  to  linger  over;  as,  for  instance,  the  capitals  of 
the  eastern  colonnade,  no  two  of  which  are  alike,  and  the 
grotesque  bas-reliefs  of  the  frieze  of  the  Mammisi.  Of 
these,  a  quasi-heraldic  group,  representing  the  sacred  hawk 
sitting  in  the  center  of  a  fan-shaped  persea  tree  between 
two  supporters,  is  one  of  the  most  curious;  the  supporters 
being  on  the  one  side  a  maniacal  lion,  and  on  the  other  a 
Typhonian    hippopotamus,  each  grasping  a  pair  of  shears. 

Passing  now  through  the  doorway  of  the  second  propylon, 
we  find  ourselves  facing  the  portico — the  famous  painted 
portico  of  which  we  had  seen  so  many  sketches  that  we 
fancied  we  knew  it  already.  That  second-hand  knowledge 
goes  for  nothing,  however,  in  presence  of  the  reality  ;  and 
we  are  as  much  taken  by  surprise  as  if  we  were  the  first 
travelers  to  set  foot  within  these  enchanted  precincts. 

For  here  is  a  place  in  which  time  seems  to  have  stood  as 
still  as  in  that  immortal  palace  where  everything  went  to 


PfflLyE.  195 

sleep  for  a  hundred  years.  The  bas-reliefs  on  the  walls, 
the  intricate  paintings  on  the  ceilings,  the  colors  upon  the 
capitals,  are  incredibly  fresh  and  perfect.  These  exquisite 
capitals  have  long  been  the  wonder  and  delight  of  travelers 
in  Egypt.  They  are  all  studied  from  natural  forms — 
from  the  lotus  in  bud  and  blossom,  the  papyrus,  and  the 
palm.  Conventionalized  with  consummate  skill,  they  are 
at  the  same  time  so  justly  proportioned  to  the  height  and 
girth  of  the  columns  as  to  give  an  air  of  wonderful  light- 
ness to  the  whole  structure.  But  above  all,  it  is  with  the 
color — color  conceived  in  the  tender  and  pathetic  minor  of 
Watteau  and  Laucret  and  G-reuze — that  one  is  most  fasci- 
nated. Of  those  delicate  half-tones,  the  fac-simile  in  the 
*'  Grammar  of  Ornament  "  conveys  not  the  remotest  idea. 
Every  tint  is  softened,  intermixed,  degraded.  The  pinks 
are  coralline;  the  greens  are  tempered  with  verditer  ;  the 
blues  are  of  a  greenish  turquoise,  like  the  western  half  of 
an  autumnal  evening  sky. 

Later  on,  when  we  returned  to  Phila?  from  the  second 
cataract,  the  writer  devoted  the  best  part  of  three  days  to 
making  a  careful  study  of  a  corner  of  this  portico;  patiently 
matching  those  subtle  variations  of  tint  and  endeavoring 
to  master  the  secret  of  their  combination.* 

Architecturally,  this  court  is  unlike  any  we  have  yet 
seen,  being  quite  small,  and  open  to  the  sky  in  the  center, 
like  the  atrium  of  a  Roman  house.  The  light  thus 
admitted  glows  overhead,  lies  in  a  square  patch  on  the 
ground  below,  and  is  reflected  upon  the  pictured  recesses 

*  The  famous  capitals  are  not  the  only  specimens  of  admirable 
coloring  in  Phila?.  Among  the  battered  bas-reliefs  of  the  great  col- 
onnade at  the  south  end  of  the  island  there  yet  remain  some 
isolated  patches  of  uninjured  and  very  lovely  ornament.  See,  more 
particularly,  the  mosaic  pattern  upon  the  throne  of  a  divinity  just 
over  the  second  doorway  in  the  western  wall;  and  the  designs  upon 
a  series  of  other  thrones  a  little  farther  along  toward  the  north, 
all  most  delicately  drawn  in  uniform  compartments,  picked  out  in 
the  three  primary  colors,  and  laid  on  in  flat  tints  of  wonderful 
purity  and  delicacy.  Among  these  a  lotus  between  two  buds,  an 
exquisite  little  sphinx  on  a  pale-red  ground,  and  a  series  of  sacred 
hawks,  white  upon  red,  alternating  with  white  upon  blue,  all 
most  exquisitely  conventionalized,  may  be  cited  as  examples  of 
absolutely  perfect  treatment  and  design  in  polychrome  decoration. 
A  more  instructive  and  delightful  task  than  the  copying  of  these 
precious  fragments  can  hardly  be  commended  to  students  and 
sketchers  on  the  Nile. 


196  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

of  the  ceiling.  At  the  upper  end,  where  the  pillars  stand 
two  deep,  there  was  originally  an  intercolnmnar  screen. 
The  rough  sides  of  the  columns  show  where  the  connecting 
blocks  have  been  torn  away.  The  pavement,  too,  has  been 
pulled  up  by  treasure-seekers,  and  the  ground  is  strewn 
with  broken  slabs  and  fragments  of  shattered  cornice. 

These  are  the  only  signs  of  ruin — signs  traced  not  by  the 
finger  of  time,  but  by  the  hand  of  the  spoiler.  So  fresh, 
so  fair  is  all  the  rest,  that  we  are  fain  to  cheat  ourselves 
for  a  moment  into  the  belief  that  what  we  see  is  work  not 
marred,  but  arrested.  Those  columns,  depend  on  it,  are 
yet  unfinished.  That  pavement  is  about  to  be  relaid.  It 
would  not  surprise  us  to  find  the  masons  here  to-morrow 
morning,  or  the  sculptor,  with  mallet  and  chisel,  carrying 
on  that  band  of  lotus  buds  and  bees.  Far  more  difficult 
is  it  to  believe  that  they  all  struck  work  forever  some 
two-and-twenty  centuries  ago. 

Here  and  there,  where  the  foundations  have  been  dis- 
turbed, one  sees  that  the  columns  are  constructed  of 
sculptured  blocks,  the  fragments  of  some  earlier  temple; 
while,  at  a  height  of  about  six  feet  from  the  ground,  a 
Greek  cross  cut  deep  into  the  side  of  the  shaft  stamps 
upon  each  pillar  the  seal  of  Christian  worship. 

For  the  Copts  who  choked  the  colonnades  and  court-yards 
with  their  hovels  seized  also  on  the  temples.  Some  they 
pulled  down  for  building  material;  others  they  appro- 
priated. We  can  never  know  how  much  they  destroyed; 
but  two  large  convents  on  the  eastern  bank  a  little  higher 
up  the  river,  and  a  small  basilica  at  the  north  end  of  the 
island,  would  seem  to  have  been  built  with  the  magnificent 
masonry  of  the  southern  quay,  as  well  as  with  blocks 
taken  from  a  structure  which  once  occupied  the  south- 
eastern corner  of  the  great  colonnade.  As  for  this 
beautiful  painted  portico,  they  turned  it  into  a  chapel.  A 
little  rough-hewn  niche  in  the  east  wall,  and  an  overturned 
credence-table  fashioned  from  a  single  block  of  limestone, 
mark  the  site  of  the  chancel.  The  Arabs,  taking  this  last 
for  a  gravestone,  have  pulled  it  up,  according  to  their 
usual  practice,  in  search  of  treasure  buried  with  the  dead. 
On  the  front  of  the  credence-table,*  and    over   the   niche 

*  It  has  since  been  pointed  out  by  a  writer  in  The  Saturday 
Review  tbat  this  credence-table  was  fashioned  with  part  of  a  shrine 
destined  for  one  of  the  captive  hawks  sacred  to  Horus.  [Note  to 
second  edition.] 


PHIL^J.  197 

which  some  unskilled  but  pious  hand  has  decorated  with 
rude  Byzantine  carvings,  the  Greek  cross  is  again  con- 
spicuous. 

The  religious  history  of  Philae  is  so  curious  that  it  is  a 
pity  it  should  not  find  an  historian.  It  shared  with 
Abydos  and  some  other  places  the  reputation  of  being  the 
burial-place  of  Osiris.  It  was  called  the  "  Holy  Island." 
Its  very  soil  was  sacred.  None  might  land  upon  its  shores, 
or  even  approach  them  too  nearly,  without  permission. 
To  obtain  that  permission  and  perform  the  pilgrimage  to 
the  tomb  of  the  god,  was  to  the  pious  Egyptian  what  the 
Mecca  pilgrimage  is  to  the  pious  Mussulman  of  to-day. 
The  most  solemn  oath  to  which  he  could  give  utterance 
was  "  By  him  who  sleeps  in  Philas." 

When  and  how  the  island  first  came  to  be  regarded  as 
the  resting-place  of  the  most  beloved  of  the  gods  does  not 
appear;  but  its  reputation  for  sanctity  seems  to  have  been 
of  comparatively  modern  date.  It  probably  rose  into  im- 
portance as  Abydos  declined.  Herodotus,  who  is  supposed 
to  have  gone  as  far  as  Elephantine,  made  minute  inquiry 
concerning  the  river  above  that  point;  and  he  relates  that 
the  cataract  was  in  the  occupation  of  "  Ethiopian  nomads." 
He,  however,  makes  no  mention  of  Philae  or  its  temples. 
This  omission  on  the  part  of  one  who,  wherever  he  went, 
sought  the  society  of  the  priests  and  paid  particular  atten- 
tion to  the  religions  observances  of  the  country,  shows  that 
either  Herodotus  never  got  so  far,  or  that  the  island  had 
not  yet  become  the  home  of  the  Osirian  mysteries.  Four 
hundred  years  later,  Diodorus  Siculus  describes  it  as  the 
holiest  of  holy  places;  while  Strabo,  writing  about  the 
same  time,  relates  that  Abydos  had  then  dwindled  to  a 
mere  village.  It  seems,  possible,  therefore,  that  at  some 
period  subsequent  to  the  time  of  Herodotus  and  prior  to 
that  of  Diodorus  or  Strabo,  the  priests  of  Isis  may  have 
migrated  from  Abydos  to  Philse;  in  which  case  there  would 
have  been  a  formal  transfer  not  only  of  the  relics  of  Osiris, 
but  of  the  sanctity  which  had  attached  for  ages  to  their 
original  resting-place.  Nor  is  the  motive  for  such  an 
exodus  wanting.  The  ashes  of  the  god  were  no  longer 
safe  at  Abydos.  Situated  in  the  midst  of  a  rich  corn  coun- 
try on  the  righ  road  to  Thebes,  no  city  south  of  Memphis 
lay  more  exposed  to  the  hazards  of  war.  Cambyses  had 
already  passed  that  way.     Other   invaders  might  follow. 


198  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TUB  NILE. 

To  seek  beyond  the  frontier  that  security  which  might  no 
longer  be  found  in  Egypt,  would  seem  therefore  to  be  the 
obvious  course  of  a  priestly  guild  devoted  to  its  trust. 
This,  of  course,  is  mere  conjecture,  to  be  taken  for  what  it 
may  be  worth.  The  decadence  of  Abydos  coincides,  at  all 
events,  with  the  growth  of  Phila?:  and  it  is  only  by  help  of 
some  such  assumption  that  one  can  understand  how  a  new 
site  should  have  suddenly  arisen  to  such  a  height  of 
holiness. 

The  earliest  temple  here,  of  which  only  a  small  propylon 
remains,  would  seem  to  have  been  built  by  the  last  of  the 
native  Pharaohs  (Nectanebo  II,  B.C.  361)  ;  but  the  high 
and  palmy  days  of  Philae  belong  to  the  period  of  Greek 
and  Roman  rule.  It  was  in  the  time  of  the  Ptolemies  that 
the  holy  island  became  the  seat  of  the  sacred  college  and 
the  stronghold  of  a  powerful  hierarchy.  Visitors  from 
all  parts  of  Egypt,  travelers  from  distant  lands,  court  func- 
tionaries from  Alexandria  charged  with  royal  gifts,  came 
annually  in  crowds  to  offer  their  vows  at  the  tomb  of  the 
god.  They  have  cut  their  names  by  hundreds  all  over  the 
principal  temple,  just  like  tourists  of  to-day.  Some  of 
these  antique  autographs  are  written  upon  and  across 
those  of  preceding  visitors;  while  others — palimpsests  upon 
stone,  so  to  say — having  been  scratched  on  the  yet  un- 
sculptured  surface  of  doorway  and  pylon,  are  seen  to  be 
older  than  the  hieroglyphic  texts  which  were  afterward 
carved  over  them.  These  inscriptions  cover  a  period  of 
several  centuries,  during  which  time  successive  Ptolemies 
and  Caesars  continued  to  endow  the  island.  Rich  in  lands, 
in  temples,  in  the  localization  of  a  great  national  myth,  the 
sacred  college  was  yet  strong  enough  in  a.d.  379  to  oppose 
a  practical  insistence  to  the  edict  of  Theodosius.  At  a 
word  from  Constantinople  the  whole  land  of  Egypt  was  for- 
cibly Christianized.  Priests  were  forbidden  under  pain  of 
death  to  perform  the  sacred  rites.  Hundreds  of  temples  were 
plundered.  Forty  thousand  statues  of  divinities  were  de- 
stroyed at  one  fell  swoop.  Meanwhile,  the  brotherhood  of 
Philae,  intrenched  behind  the  cataract  and  the  desert,  sur- 
vived the  degradation  of  their  order  and  the  ruin  of  their 
immemorial  faith.  It  is  not  known  with  certainty  for 
how  long  they  continued  to  transmit  their  hereditary 
privileges;  but  two  of  the  above-mentioned  votive  inscrip- 
tions show  that  so  late  as  a.d.  453  the  priestly  families 


PHIL^J.  100 

were  still  in  occupation  of  the  island  and  still  celebrating 
the  mysteries  of  Osiris  and  Isis.  There  even  seems  reason 
for  believing  that  the  ancient  worship  continued  to  hold 
its  own  till  the  end  of  the  sixth  century,  at  which  time, 
according  to  an  inscription  at  Kalabsheh,  of  which  I  shall 
have  more  to  say  hereafter,  Silco,  -'King  of  all  the 
Ethiopians,"  himself  apparently  a  Christian,  twice  invaded 
Lower  Nubia,  where  God,  he  says,  gave  him  the  victory, 
and  the  vanquished  swore  to  him  " by  their  idols"  to 
observe  the  terms  of  peace.* 

There  is  nothing  in  this  record  to  show  that  the  invaders 
went  beyond  Tafa,  the  ancient  Taphis,  which  is  twenty- 
seven  miles  above  Phila? ;  but  it  seems  reasonable  to  con- 
clude that  so  long  as  the  old  gods  yet  reigned  in  any  part 
of  Nubia,  the  island  sacred  to  Osiris  would  maintain  its 
traditional  sanctity. 

At  length,  however,  there  must  have  come  a  day  when 
for  the  last  time  the  tomb  of  the  god  was  crowned  with 
flowers  and  the  "  Lamentations  of  Isis  "were  recited  on 
the  threshold  of  the  sanctuary.  And  there  must  have 
come  another  day  when  the  cross  was  carried  in  triumph 
up  those  painted  colonnades  and  the  first  Christian  mass 
was  chanted  in  the  precints  of  the  heathen.  One  would 
like  to  know  how  these  changes  were  brought  about ; 
whether  the  old  faith  died  out  for  want  of  worshipers,  or 
was  expelled    with   clamor  and  violence.     But   upon  this 

*  In  the  time  of  Strabo,  the  Island  of  Philae,  as  has  been  recently 
shown  by  Professor  Revillout  in  his  "  Seconde  Memoire  snr  les 
Blemmys,"  was  the  common  property  of  the  Egyptians  and  Nubians, 
or  rather  of  that  obscure  nation  called  the  Blemmys,  who,  with  the 
Nobades  and  Megabares,  were  collectively  classed  at  that  time  as 
"  Ethiopians."  The  Blemmys  (ancestors  of  the  present  Barabras) 
were  a  stalwart  and  valiant  race,  powerful  enough  to  treat  on  equal 
terms  with  the  Roman  rulers  of  Egypt.  They  were  devout  adorers 
of  Isis,  and  it  is  interesting  to  learn  that  in  the  treaty  of  Maximin  with 
this  nation,  it  is  expressly  provided  that,  "  according  to  the  old  law," 
the  Blemmys  were  entitled  to  take  the  statue  of  Isis  every  year  from 
the  sanctuary  of  Philae  to  their  own  country  for  a  visit  of  a  stated 
period.  A  graffito  at  Philae,  published  by  Letronne,  states  that  the 
writer  was  at  Philae  when  the  image  of  the  goddess  was  brought 
back  from  one  of  these  periodical  excursions,  and  that  he  beheld 
the  arrival  of  the  sacred  boats  "containing  the  shrines  of  the  divine 
statues."  From  this  it  would  appear  that  other  images  than  that  of 
Isis  had  been  taken  to  Ethiopia;  probably  those  of  Osiris  and  Horus, 
and  possibly  also  that  of  Hathor,  the  divine  nurse.  [Note  to  second 
edition."1 


200  4  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

point  history  is  vague  *  and  the  graffiti  of  the  time  are 
silent.  We  only  know  for  certain  that  the  old  went  out 
and  the  new  came  in  ;  and  that  where  the  resurrected 
Osiris  was  wont  to  be  worshiped  according  to  the  most 
sacred  mysteries  of  the  Egyptian  ritual,  the  resurrected 
Christ  was  now  adored  after  the  simple  fashion  of  the 
primitive  Coptic  church. 

And  now  the  holy  island,  near  which  it  was  believed  no 
fish  had  power  to  swim  or  bird  to  fly  and  upon  whose  soil 
no  pilgrim  might  set  foot  without  permission,  became  all 
at  once  the  common  property  of  a  populous  community. 
Courts,  colonnades,  even  terraced  roofs,  were  overrun  with 
little  crude  brick  dwellings.  A  small  basilica  was  built  at 
the  lower  end  of  the  island.  The  portico  of  the  great 
temple  was  converted  into  a  chapel  and  dedicated  to 
St.  Stephen.  "  This  good  work,"  says  a  Greek  inscription 
traced  there  by  some  monkish  hand  of  the  period,  "was 
done  by  the  well-beloved  of  God,  the  Abbot-Bishop  Theo- 
dore." Of  this  same  Theodore,  whom  another  inscription 
styles  "  the  very  holy  father,"  we  know  nothing  but  his 
name. 

The  walls  hereabout  are  full  of  these  fugitive  records. 
"  The  cross  has  conquered  and  will  ever  conquer,"  writes 
one  anonymous  scribe.  Others  have  left  simple  signatures; 
as,  for  instance:  "  I,  Joseph,"  in  one  place  and  "  I,  Theo- 
dosius  of  Nubia,"  in  another.  Here  and  there  an  added 
word  or  two  give  a  more  human  interest  to  the  autograph. 
So,  in  the  pathetic  scrawl  of  one  who  writes  himself 
"Johannes,  a  slave,"  we  seem  to  read  the  story  of  a  life 
in  a  single  line.  These  Coptic  signatures  are  all  followed 
by  the  sign  of  the  cross. 

The  foundation  of  the  little  basilica,  with  its  apse  toward 
the  east  and  its  two  doorways  to  the  west,  are  still  trace- 
able. We  set  a  couple  of  our  sailors  one  day  to  clear  away  the 
rubbish  at  the  lower  end  of  the  nave,  and  found  the  font — 
a  rough-stone  basin  at  the  foot  of  a  broken  column. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  guess  what  Phihe  must  have  been  like 
in  the  days  of  Abbot  Theodore  and  his  flock.  The  little  ba- 
silica, we  may  be  sure,  had  a  cluster  of  mud  domes  upon 
the  roof;  and    I  fancy,  somehow,  that  the  abbot  and    his 

*  The  Emperor  Justinian  is  credited  with  the  mutilation  of  the 
sculptures  of  the  large  temple;  but  the  ancient  worship  was  probably 
only  temporarily  supended  in  his  time. 


PHILM  201 

monks  installed  themselves  in  that  row  of  cells  on  the  east 
side  ot  the  great  colonnade,  where  the  priests  of  Tsis  dwelled 
before  them.  As  for  the  village,  it  must  have  been  just  like 
Luxor-swarm, ng  with  dusky  life;  noisy  with  the  babble 
ot  children,  the  cackling  of  poultry  and  the  barking  of 
(logs;  sending  up  thin  pillars  of  blue  smoke  at  noon;  echo- 
ing to  the  measured  chimes  of  the  prayer-bell  at  morn  and 
even;  and  sleeping  at  night  as  soundly  as  if  no  ghostlike, 
mutilated  gods  were  looking  on  mournfully    in  the   rnoon- 

The  gods  are  avenged  now.  The  creed  which  dethroned 
them  is  dethroned.  Abbot  Theodore  and  his  successors, 
and  the  religion  they  taught,  and  the  simple  folk  that  lis- 
tened to  their  teaching,  are  gone  and  forgotten.  For  the 
Church  of  Christ,  which  still  languishes  in  Egypt,  is  ex- 
tinct m  Nubia.  It  lingered  long;  though  doubtless  in 
some  such  degraded  and  barbaric  form  as  it  wears  in  Abys- 
sinia to  this  day  But  it  was  absorbed  by  Islamism  at  last: 
and  only  a  ruined  convent  perched  here  and  there  upon 
some  solitary  height,  or  a  few  crosses  rudely  carved  on  the 
walls  of  a  Ptolemaic  temple,  remain  to  show  that  Christian- 
ity once  passed  that  way. 

The  mediaeval  history  of  Philas  is  almost  a  blank  The 
Arabs  having  invaded  Egypt  toward  the  middle  of  the 
seventh  century,  were  long  in  the  land  before  they  began 
to  cultivate  literature;  and  for  more  than  three  hundred 
years  history  is  silent.  It  is  not  till  the  tenth  century  that  we 
once  again  catch  a  fleeting  glimpse  of  Philse.  The  frontier 
is  now  removed  to  the  head  of  the  cataract.  The  Holv 
Island  has  ceased  to  be  Christian;  ceased  to  be  Nubian- 
contains  a  mosque  and  garrison,  and  is  the  hist  fortified 
outpost  of  the  Moslems  It  still  retains,  and  apparently 
tv  ill  continue  to  retain  for  some  centuries  longer,  its  ancient 
Egyptian  name.  That  is  to  say  (P  being  Is  usual  con 
verted  into  B)  the  Pilak  of  the"  lLoglyphic  i "  "ript  s~ 
becomes  m  Arabic  Belak;*  which  is  much  more  like  the 
original  than  the  Phihe  of  the  Creeks. 

*  These  and   the   following:   particulars   about   the    Christians  of 
Nubia  are  found  in  the  famous  work  of  Makrizi,  an  Arab  Sstoria? 

1  Si  n.nt-rentU,ry:  w£?  qUOtes  kl-el>'  from  Earlier  writers  See 
Burckhardts  "Travels  in  Nubia,"  4to,  L819,  Appendix  iii.  Although 
Belak  is  distinctly  described  as  an  island  in  the  neighborhood  of  the 
cataract,   distant  four  miles   from  Assuan,  Burckhard    pe     sted    a 


202  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

The  native  Christians,  meanwhile,  would  seem  to  have 
relapsed  into  a  state  of  semi-barbarism.  They  make  per- 
petual inroads  upon  the  Arab  frontier  and  suffer  perpetual 
defeat.  Battles  are  fought;  tribute  is  exacted;  treaties  are 
made  and  broken. Toward  the  close  of  the  thirteenth  century , 
their  king  being  slain  and  their  churches  plundered,  they 
lose  one-fourth  of  their  territory,  including  all  that  part 
which  borders  upon  Assuan.  Those  who  remain  Christians 
are  also  condemned  to  pay  an  annual  capitation  tax,  in  ad- 
dition to  the  usual  tribute  of  dates,  cotton,  slaves  and 
camels.  After  this  we  may  conclude  that  they  accepted 
Islamisin  from  the  Arabs,  as  they  had  accepted  Osiris  from 
the  Egyptians  and  Christ  from  the  Komans.  As  Christians,' 
at  all  events,  we  hear  of  them  no  more;  for  Christianity  in 
Nubia  perished  root  and  branch,  and  not  a  Copt,  it  is  said, 
may  now  be  found  above  the  frontier. 

Philae  was  still  inhabited  in  a.  d.  1799,  when  a  detach- 
ment of  Desaix's  army  under  General  Beliard  took  posses- 
sion of  the  island  and  left  an  inscription*  on  the  soffit  of  the 
doorway  of  the  great  pylon  to  commemorate  the  passage  of 
the  cataract.  Denon,  describing  the  scene  with  his  usual 
vivacity,  relates  how  the  natives  first  defied  and  then  fled 
from  the  French;  flinging  themselves  into  the  river, 
drowning  such  of  their  children  as  were  too  young  to  swim 
and  escaping  into  the  desert.  They  appear  at  this  time  to 
have  been  mere  savages — the  women  ugly  and  sullen, the  men 
naked,  agile  and  quarrelsome,  and  armed  not  only  with 
swords  and  spears,  but  with  matchlock  guns,  with  which 
they  used  to  keep  up  "a  brisk  and  well-directed  fire." 

Their  abandonment  of  the  island  probably  dates  from 
this  time;  for  when  Burkhardt  went  up  in  A.  D.  1813,  he 
found  it,  as  we  found  it  to  this  day,  deserted  and  solitary. 

looking  for  it  among  the  islets  below  Mahatta,  and  believd  Phil*  to 
be  the  first  Nubian  town  beyond  the  frontier.  The  hieroglyphic 
alphabet,  however,  had  not  then  been  deciphered.  Burckhardt  died 
at  Cairo  in  1817,  and  Champoll  ion's  discovery  was  not  given  to  the 
world  till  1822. 

*  This  inscription,  which  M.  About  considers  the  most  interesting 
thing  in  Philae,  runs  as  follows:  "  A' An  VI  de  la  Republique,  le  15 
Messidor,  une  Armee  Francaise  commandee  par  Bonaparte  est  de- 
scendue  a  Alexandrie.  L'Armee  ayant  mis,  vingt  jours  apres,  les 
Mamelouks  en  f  uite  aux  Pyramides,  Desaix,  commandant  la  premiere 
division,  les  a  poursuivis  au  dela  des  Cataractes,  ou  il  est  arrive  le  18 
Ventose  de  l'an  VII." 


PHILJE.  203 

One  poor  old  man — if  indeed  he  still  lives — is  now  the  one 
inhabitant  of  Philse;  and  I  suspect  he  only  crosses  over 
from  Biggeh  in  the  tourist-season.  He  calls  himself,  with 
or  without  authority,  the  guardian  of  the  island;  sleeps  in 
a  nest  of  rags  and  straw  in  a  sheltered  corner  behind  the 
great  temple;  and  is  so  wonderfully  wizened  and  bent  and 
knotted  up  that  nothing  of  him  seems  quite  alive  except 
his  eyes.  We  gave  him  fifty  copper  paras*  for  a  parting 
present  when  on  our  way  back  to  Egypt;  and  he  was  so 
oppressed  by  the  consciousness  of  wealth  that  he  immedi- 
ately buried  his  treasure  and  implored  us  to  tell  no  one 
what  we  had  given  him. 

With  the  French  siege  and  the  flight  of  the  native  popu- 
lation closes  the  last  chapter  of  the  local  history  of  Philse. 
The  holy  island  has  done  henceforth  with  wars  of  creeds 
or  kings.  It  disappears  from  the  domain  of  history  and 
enters  the  domain  of  science.  To  have  contributed  to  the 
discovery  of  the  hieroglyphic  alphabet  is  a  high  distinction; 
and  in  no  sketch  of  Philas,  however  slight,  should  the 
obeliskf  that  furnished  Champollion  with  the  name  of 
Cleopatra  be  allowed  to  pass  unnoticed.  This  monument, 
second  only  to  the  Rosetta  stone  in  point  of  philological  in- 
terest, was  carried  off  by  Mr.  W.  Bankes,  the  discoverer  of 
the  first  tablet  of  Abvdos,  and  is  now  in  Dorsetshire.  Its 
empty  socket  and  its  fellow  obelisk,  mutilated  and  solitary, 
remain  in  situ  at  the  southern  extremity  of  the  island. 

And  now — for  we  have  lingered  over  long  in  the  portico 
— it  is  time  we  glanced  at  the  interior  of  the  temple.  So 
we  go  in  at  the  central  door,  beyond  which  opens  some 
nine  or  ten  halls  and  side-chambers  leading,  as  usual,  to 
the  sanctuary.  Here  all  is  dark,  earthly,  oppressive.  In 
rooms  unlighted  by  the  faintest  gleam  from  without,  we 
find  smoke-blackened  walls  covered  with  elaborate  bas- 
reliefs.  Mysterious  passages,  pitch-dark,  thread  the  thick- 
ness of  the  walls  and  communicate  by  means  of  trap-like 
openings  with  vaults  below.  In  the  sanctuary  lies  an  over- 
thrown altar;  while  in  the  corner  behind  it  stands  the  very 
niche  in  which  Strabo  must  have  seen  that  poor,  sacred 
hawk  of  Ethiopia  which  he  describes  as  "  sick  and  nearly 
dead." 

*  About  two-and- sixpence  English. 
\  See  previous  note,  p.  181. 


204  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

But  in  this  temple  dedicated  not  only  to  Isis,  but  to  the 
memory  of  Osiris  and  the  worship  of  Horus  their  son, 
there  is  one  chamber  which  we  may  be  quite  sure  was 
shown  neither  to  Strabo  nor  Diodorus,  nor  to  any  stranger 
of  alien  faith,  be  his  repute  or  station  what  it  might;  a 
chamber  holy  above  all  others;  holier  even  than  the  sanc- 
tuary— the  chamber  sacred  to  Osiris.  "We,  however,  un- 
restricted, unforbidden,  are  free  to  go  where  we  list;  and 
our  books  tell  us  that  this  mysterious  chamber  is  some- 
where overhead.  So,  emerging  once  again  into  the  day- 
light, we  go  up  a  well-worn  staircase  leading  out  upon  the 
roof. 

This  roof  is  an  intricate,  up-and-down  place,  and  the 
room  is  not  easy  to  find.  It  lies  at  the  bottom  of  a  little 
flight  of  steps — a  small  stone  cell  some  twelve  feet  square, 
lighted  only  from  the  doorway.  The  walls  are  covered 
with  sculptures  representing  the  shrines,the  mummification 
and  the  resurrection  of  Osiris.*    These  shrines,  containing 

*  The  story  of  Osiris — the  beneficent  god,  the  friend  of  man,  slain 
and  dismembered  by  Typhon*  buried  in  a  score  of  graves:  sought 
by  Isis;  recovered  limb  by  limb;  resuscitated  in  the  flesh;  tians- 
ferred  from  earth  to  reign  over  the  dead  in  the  world  of  shades — is 
one  of  the  most  complex  of  Egyptian  legends.  Osiris  under  some 
aspects  is  the  Nile.  He  personifies  abstract  good,  and  is  entitled 
Unnefer,  or  "  The  Good  Being."  He  appears  as  a  myth  of  the  solar 
year.  lie  bears  a  notable  likeness  to  Prometheus  and  to  the  Indian 
Bacchus. 

"Osiris,  dit-on,  etait  autrefois  descendu  sur  la  terre.  Etre  bon 
par  excellence,  il  avait  adouci  les  inceurs  des  hommes  par  la  per- 
suasion et  la  bienfaisance.  Mais  il  avait  succombe  sous  les  embuches 
de  Typhon,  son  frere,  le  genie  du  mal,  et  pendant  que  ses  deux 
soeurs,  Isis  et  Nephthys,  recueillaient  son  corps  qui  avait  ete  jete 
dans  le  fleuve,  le  dieu  ressuscitait  d'entre  les  morts  et  apparaissait  a 
son  fils  Horus,  qu'il  instituait  son  vengeur.  C'est  ce  sacrifice 
qu'il  avait  autrefois  accompli  en  faveur  des  hommes  qu'  Osiris 
renouvelle  ici  eu  faveur  de  Fame  degagee  de  ses  liens  ter- 
restres.  Non  seulement  il  devient  son  guide,  mais  il  s'identifie  a 
elle;  il  l'absorbe  en  son  propre  sein.  C'est  lui  alors  qui,  devenu  le 
defunt  lui  meme,  se  soumet  a  toutes  les  epreuves  que  celui-ci  doit 
subir  avant  d'etre  proclaim'  juste;  c'est  lui  qui,  a  chaque  ame  qu'il 
doit  sauver,  flechit  les  gardiens  des  demeures  infernales  et  combat 
les  monstres  compagnons  de  la  nuit  et  de  la  mort;  c'est  lui  enfin  qui, 
vainqueur  des  tenebres,  avec  l'assistance  d'Horus,  s'assied  au  tribunal 
de  la  supreme  justice  et  ouvre  a  l'ame  declaree  pure  les  portes 
du  sejour  eternel.  L'image  de  la  mort  aura  ete  empruntee  au  soleil 
qui  disparait  a  l'horizon  du  soir:  le  soleil   resplendissant  du   matin 


P1IILM.  205 

some  part  of  bis  body,  are  variously  fasbioned.     His  bead, 


for  instance,  rests  on  anilometer;  bis  arm,  surmounted  by 

sera  la  symbole   de  cette  seconde  naissance  a  une  vie  qui,  cette  fois, 
ne  connaitra  pas  la  mort. 

"  Osiris  est  done  le  principe  du  bien.  .  .  .  Charge  de  sauver 
les  nines  de  la  mort  definitive,  il  est  l'intermediaire  entre  l'liomme 
et  Dieu;  il  est  le  type  et  le  sauveur  de  l'lioinme." — -"Notice  des 
Monuments  a  Boulaq" — Aug.  Mariette  Bey,  1872,  pp.  105  et  seq. 

[It  has  always  been  taken  for  granted  by  Egyptologists  that  Osiris 
was  originally  a  local  god  of  Abydos,  and  that  Abydos  was  the  cradle 
of  the  Osirian  myth.  Professor  Maspero,  however,  in  some  of  his 
recent  lectures  at  the  College  de  France,  has  shown  that  the  Osirian 
cult  took  its  rise  in  the  Delta;  and,  in  point  of  fact,  Osiris,  in  cer- 
tain ancient  inscriptions,  is  styled  the  King  Osiris,  "  Lord  of 
Tattu  "  (Busiris),  and  has  his  name  inclosed  in  a  royal  oval.  Up 
to  the  time  of  the  Graeco-Roman  rule  the  only  two  cities  of 
Egypt  in  which  Osiris  reigned  as  the  principal  god  were  Busiris  and 
Mendes.] 

"  Le  centre  terrestre  du  culte  d'Osiris,  etait  clans  les  cantons  nord- 
est  du  Delta,  situes  entre  la  branche  Sebennytique  et  la  branche 
Pelusiaque,  conime  le  centre  terrestre  du  culte  de  Sit,  le  frere  et  le 
meurtrier  d'  Osiris:  les  deux  dieux  etaient  limitrophes  l'un  de  l'autre, 
et   des  rivalites  de  voisinage   expliquent   peut-etre  en   partie   leurs 


206  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

a  head,  is  sculptured  on  a  stela,  in  shape  resembling  a 


high-shouldered  bottle,  surmounted  by  one  of  the  head- 

querelles.  .  .  .  Tous  les  traits  de  la  tradition  Osirienne  ne  sont 
pas  egalement  anciens:  le  fond  me  parait  etre  d'une  antiquity  incon- 
testable. Osiris  y  reunit  les  caracteres  des  deux  divinites  qui  se 
partageaient  chaque  nome:  il  est  le  dieu  des  vivants  et  le  dieu  des 
morts  en  meme  temps;  le  dieu  qui  nourrit  et  le  dieu  qui  detruit. 
Probablement,  les  temps  oil,  saisi  de  pitie  pour  les  mortels,  il  leur 
ouvrit  Faeces  de  son  royaume,  avaient  ete  precedes  d'autres  temps  ou 
il  etait  impitoyable  et  ne  songeait  qu'a  les  aneantir.  Je  crois  trouver 
un  souvenir  de  ce  role  destructeur  d'Osiris  dans  plusieurs  passages 
des  textes  des  Pyramides,  ou  Ton  promet  au  mort  que  Harkhouti 
viendra  vers  lui,  'deliantses  liens,  brisant  ses  cliainespourle  delivrer 
de  la  ruine;  il  ne  le  Ivorera  pas  d  Osiris,  si  Men  qu'il  ne  mov/rra  pan, 
mais  il  sera  glorieux  dans  l'horizon,  solide  comme  le  Did  dans  la 
ville  de  Didou.'  L'Osiris  farouche  et  cruel  fut  absorbe  prompte- 
ment  par  l'Osiris  doux  et  bienveillant.  L'Osiris  qui  domine  toute  la 
religion  ttgyptienne  desle  debut,  e'est  l'Osiris  Onnofris,  l'Osiris  Entre 
bon,  que  les  Grecsont  connu.  Commes  ses  parents,  Sibou  et  Nouit, 
Osiris  Onnofris  appartient  a,  la  classe  des  dieux  generaux  qui  ne  sont 
pas  confines  en  un  seul  canton,  mais  qui  sont  adores  par  un  pays 
entier. "  See/'  Les  Hypogees  Royaux  de  Thebes"  (Bulletin  critiquede 
la  religion  Egyptienne)  par  Professeur  G.  Maspero,  "Revue  de 
l'Histoire  des  Religions,"  1888.     [Note  to  second  edition.] 

"  The  astronomical  and  physical  elements  are  too  obvious  to  be 
mistaken.  Osiris  and  Isis  are  the  Nile  and  Egypt.  The  myth  of 
Osiris  typifies  the  solar  year — the  power  of  Osiris  is  the  sun  in  the 
lower  hemisphere,  the  winter  solstice.  The  birth  of  Horus  typifies 
the  vernal  equinox — the  victory  of  Horus,  the  summer  solstice — the 
inundation  of  the  Nile.  Typhon  is  the  autumnal  equinox." 
— ' '  Egypt's  Place  in  Universal  History,"  Bunsen,  1st  ed.,  vol.  i,  p.  437. 

"The  Egyptians  do  not  all  worship  the  same  gods,  excepting  Isis 
and  Osiris." — Herodotus,  book  ii. 


PHIL^l 


207 


dresses  peculiar  to  the  god;  his  legs  and  feet  lie  in  a  pylon- 
shaped  mausoleum.  Upon  another  shrine  stands  the  miter- 
shaped  crown  which  he  wears  as  judge  of  the  lower  world. 
Isis  and  Nephthys  keep  guard  over  each  shrine.  In  a 
lower  frieze  we  see  the  mummy  of  the  god  laid  upon  a 
bier,  with  the  four  so-called  canopic  jars*  ranged  under- 
neath.    A  little  farther  on  he  lies  in  state,  surrounded  by 


EESUKKECTION   OF  OSIEIH. 


lotus  buds  on  tall  stems,  figuratively  of  growth,  or  return- 
ing life. f  Finally,  he  is  depicted  lying  on  a  couch;  his 
limbs  reunited;  his  head,  left  hand,  and  left  foot  upraised, 
as  in  the  act  of  returning  to  consciousness.  Nephthys,  in 
the  guise  of  a  winged  genius,  fans  him  with  the  breath  of 
life.  Isis,  with  outstretched  arms,  stands  at  his  feet  and 
seems  to  be  calling  him  back  to  her  embraces.  The  scene 
represents,  in  fact,  that  supreme  moment  when  Isis  pours 

*"  These  vases,  made  of  alabaster,  calcarecms  stone,  porcelain, 
terra-cotta,  and  even  wood,  were  destined  to  hold  the  soft  part  or 
viscera  of  the  body,  embalmed  separately  and  deposited  in  them. 
They  were  four  in  number,  and  were  made  in  the  shape  of  the  four 
genii  of  the  Karneter,  or  Hades,  to  whom  were  assigned  the  four 
cardinal  points  of  the  compass."  Birch's  "Guide  to  the  First  and 
Second  Egyptian  Rooms,"  1874,  p.  89.  See  also  Birch's  "  History  of 
Ancient  Pottery,"  1873,  p.  23  et  seq. 

f  Thus  depicted,  he  is  called  "the  germinating  Osiris."  [Xote  to 
second  edition.] 


208  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

forth  her  passionate  invocations,  and  Osiris  is  resuscitated 
by  virtue  of  the  songs  of  the  divine  sisters.* 

Ill-modeled  and  ill-cut  as  they  are,  there  is  a  clownish 
naturalness  about  these  little  sculptures  which  lifts  them 
above  the  conventional  dead  level  of  ordinary  Ptolemaic 
work.  The  figures  tell  their  tale  intelligbly.  Osiris  seems 
really  struggling  to  rise,  and  the  action  of  Isis  expresses 
clearly  enough  the  intention  of  the  artist.  Although  a 
few  heads  have  been  mutilated  and  the  surface  of  the  stone 
is  somewhat  degraded,  the  subjects  are  by  no  means  in  a 
bad  state  of  preservation.  In  the  accompanying  sketches, 
nothing  has  been  done  to  improve  the  defective  drawing  or 
repair  the  broken  outlines  of  the  originals.  Osiris  in  one 
has  lost  his  foot  and  in  another  his  face;  the  hands  of  Isis 
are  as  shapeless  as  those  of  a  bran  doll;  and  the  naivete  of 
the  treatment  verges  throughout  upon  caricature.  But 
the  interest  attaching  to  them  is  altogether  apart  from  the 
way  in  which  they  are  executed.  And  now,  returning  to 
the  roof,  it  is  pleasant  to  breathe  the  fresher  air  that  comes 
with  sunset — to  see  the  island,  in  shape  like  an  ancient 
Egyptian  shield,  lying  mapped  out  beneath  one's  feet. 
From  here,  we  look  back  upon  the  way  we  have  come,  and 
forward  to  the  way  we  are  going.  Northward  lies  the  cata- 
ract— a  network  of  islets  with  flashes  of  liver  between. 
Southward,  the  broad  current  comes  on  in  one  smooth, 
glassy  sheet,  unbroken  by  a  single  rapid.  How  eagerly  we 
turn  our  eyes  that  way;  for  yonder  lie  Abou  Simbel  and 
all  the  mysterious  lands  beyond  the  cataracts!  But  we 
cannot  see  far,  for  the  river  curves  away  grandly  to  the 
right  and  vanishes  behind  a  range  of  granite  hills. 
A  similar  chain  hems  in  the  opposite  bank;  while  high 
above  the  palm-groves  fringing  the  edge  of  the  shore 
stand  two  ruined  convents  on  two  rocky  prominences, 
like  a  couple  of  castles  on  the  Rhine.  On  the  east 
bank  opposite,  a  few  mud  houses  and  a  group  of 
superb  carob  trees  mark  the  site  of  a  village,  the 
greater  part  of  which  lies  hidden  among  palms.  Behind 
this  village  opens  a  vast  sand  valley,  like  an  arm  of  the  sea 
from  which  the  waters  have  retreated.  The  old  channel 
along  which   we    rode  the  other  day  went  plowing    that 

*  See  M.  P.  J.  de  Horrack's  translation  of  "The  Lamentations  of 
Isis  and  Nephthys.     Records  of  the  Past,"  vol.  ii,  p.  117  et  seq. 


PHILJE.  209 

way  straight  across  from  Philaj.  Last  of  all,  forming  the 
western  side  of  this  fourfold  view,  we  have  the  island  of 
Biggeh — rugged,  mountainous,  and  divided  from  Philae  by 
so  narrow  a  channel  that  every  sound  from  the  native  vil- 
lage on  the  opposite  steep  is  as  audidle  is  though  it  came 
from  the  court-yard  at  our  feet.  That  village  is  built  in 
and  about  the  ruins  of  a  tiny  Ptolemaic  temple,  of  which 
only  a  screen  and  doorway  and  part  of  a  small  propylon 
remain.  We  can  see  a  woman  pounding  coffee  on  the 
threshold  of  one  of  the  huts,  and  some  children  scrambling 
about  the  rocks  in  pursuit  of  a  wandering  turkey.  Catch- 
ing sight  of  us  up  here  on  the  roof  of  the  temple,  they 
come  whooping  and  scampering  down  to  the  water  side 
and  with  shrill  cries  importune  us  for  backshish.  Unless 
the  stream  is  wider  than  it  looks  one  might  almost  pitch 
a  piaster  into  their  outstretched  hands. 

Mr.  Hay,  it  is  said,  discovered  a  secret  passage  of  solid 
masonry  tunneled  under  the  river  from  island  to  island. 
The  entrance  on  this  side  was  from  a  shaft  in  the  Temple  of 
Isis.*  We  are  not  told  how  far  Mr.  Hay  was  able  to  pene- 
trate in  the  direction  of  Biggeh  ;  but  the  passage  would 
lead  up,  most  probably,  to  the  little  temple  opposite. 

Perhaps  the  most  entirely  curious  and  unaccustomed 
features  in  all  this  scene  are  the  mountains.  They  are 
like  none  that  any  of  us  have  seen  in  our  diverse  wander- 
ings. Other  mountains  are  homogeneous  and  thrust 
themselves  up  from  below  in  masses  suggestive  of  primitive 
disruption  and  upheaval.  These  seem  to  lie  upon  the  sur- 
face foundationless;  rock  loosely  piled  on  rock,  bowlder  on 
bowlder;  like  stupendous  cairns,  the  work  of  demigods 
and  giants.  Here  and  there,  on  shelf  or  summit,  a  huge 
rounded  mass,  many  tons  in  weight,  hangs  poised  capri- 
ciously. Most  of  these  blocks,  I  am  persuaded,  would 
"  log"  if  put  to  the  test. 

But  for  a  specimen  stone  commend  me  to  yonder  amaz- 
ing monolith  down  by  the  water's  edge  opposite,  near  the 
carob  trees  and  the  ferry.  Though  but  a  single  block  of 
orange-red  granite,  it  looks  like  three;  and  the  Arabs,  see- 
ing it  in  some  fancied  resemblance  to  an  arm-chair,  call  it 
Pharaoh's    throne.      Rounded  and    polished    by  primeval 

*"  Operations  Carried  On  at  the  Pyramids  of  Ghizeh," — Col. 
Howard  "Vyse,  London,  1840,  vol.  i,  p.  63. 


210  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

iloods  and  emblazoned  with  royal  cartouches  of  extraordi- 
nary size,  it  seems  to  have  attracted  the  attention  of  pil- 
grims in  all  ages.  Kings,  conquerors,  priests,  travelers, 
have  covered  it  with  records  of  victories,  of  religious  festi- 
vals, of  prayers,  and  offerings,  and  acts  of  adoration.  Some 
of  these  are  older  by  a  thousand  years  and  more  than  the 
temples  on  the  island  oj)posite. 

Such,  roughly  summed  up,  are  the  fourfold  surround- 
ings of  Philae — the  cataract,  the  river,  the  desert,  the 
environing  mountains.  The  Holy  Island  —  beautiful,  life- 
less, a  thing  of  the  far  past,  with  all  its  wealth  of  sculpture, 
painting,  history,  poetry,  tradition  —  sleeps,  or  seems  to 
sleep,  in  the  midst. 

It  is  one  of  the  world's  famous  landscapes,  and  it 
deserves  its  fame.  Every  sketcher  sketches  it;  every  trav- 
eler describes  it.  Yet  it  is  just  one  of  those  places  of 
which  the  objective  and  subjective  features  are  so  equally 
balanced  that  it  bears  putting  neither  into  words  nor 
colors.  The  sketcher  must  perforce  leave  out  the  atmos- 
phere of  association  which  informs  his  subject ;  and  the 
writer's  description  is  at  best  no  better  than  a  catalogue 
raisounee. 


PIILLjE  TO  KOR08KO.  211 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

PHIL.E   TO    KOKOSKO. 

Sailing  gently  southward  —  the  river  opening  wide 
before  us,  Philfe  dwindling  in  the  rear — we  feel  that  we 
are  now  fairly  over  the  border;  and  that  if  Egypt  was 
strange  and  far  from  home,  Nubia  is  stranger  and  farther 
still.  The  Nile  here  flows  deep  and  broad.  The  rocky 
heights  that  hem  it  in  so  close  on  either  side  are  still  black 
on  the  one  hand,  golden  on  the  other.  The  banks  are 
narrower  than  ever.  The  space  in  some  places  is  little 
wider  than  a  towing-path.  In  others,  there  is  barely 
room  for  a  belt  of  date-palms  and  a  slip  of  alluvial  soil, 
every  foot  of  which  produces  its  precious  growth  of  durra 
or  barley.  The  steep  verge  below  is  green  with  lentils  to 
the  water's  edge.  As  the  river  recedes,  it  leaves  each  day 
a  margin  of  fresh,  wet  soil,  in  which  the  careful  husband- 
man hastens  to  scratch  a  new  furrow  and  sow  another  line 
of  seeds.  He  cannot  afford  to  let  so  much  as  an  inch  of 
that  kindly  mud  lie  idle. 

Gliding  along  with  half-filled  sail,  we  observe  how 
entirely  the  population  seems  to  be  regulated  by  the  extent 
of  arable  soil.  Where  the  inundation  has  room  to  spread, 
villages  come  thicker;  more  dusky  figures  are  seen  moving 
to  and  fro  in  the  shade  of  the  palms;  more  children  race 
along  the  banks,  shrieking  for  backshish.  When  the  shelf 
of  soil  is  narrowed,  on  the  contrary,  to  a  mere  fringe  of 
luminous  green  dividing  the  rock  from  the  river,  there  is 
a  startling  absence  of  everything  like  life.  Mile  after  mile 
drags  its  slow  length  along,  uncheered  by  any  sign  of 
human  habitation.  When  now  and  then  a  solitary  native. 
armed  with  gun  or  spear,  is  seen  striding  along  the  edge  of 
the  desert,  he  only  seems  to  make  the  general  solitude 
more  apparent. 

Meanwhile,  it  is  not  only  men  and  women  whom  we  miss 
—  men   laboring   by  the  river  side;   women  with  babies 


212  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

astride  on  their  shoulders,  or  water-jars  balanced  on  their 
heads — but  birds,  beasts,  boats;  everything  that  we  have 
been  used  to  see  along  the  river.  The  buffaloes  dozing  at 
midday  in  the  shallows,  the  camels  stalking  home  in  single 
file  toward  sunset,  the  water-fowl  haunting  the  sand-banks, 
seem  suddenly  to  have  vanished.  Even  donkeys  are  now 
rare;  and  as  for  horses,  I  do  not  remember  to  have  seen  one 
during  the  seven  weeks  we  spent  in  Nubia.  All  night,  too, 
instead  of  the  usual  chorus  of  dogs  barking  furiously  from 
village  to  village,  we  hear  only  the  long-drawn  wail  of  an 
occasional  jackal.  It  is  not  wonderful,  however,  that 
animal  life  should  be  scarce  in  a  district  where  the  scant 
soil  yields  barely  food  enough  for  those  who  till  it.  To 
realize  how  very  scant  it  is,  one  needs  only  to  remember 
that  about  Derr,  where  it  is  at  its  widest,  the  annual 
deposit  nowhere  exceeds  half  a  mile  in  breadth;  while  for 
the  most  part  of  the  way  between  Philse  and  Wady  Halfeh 
— a  distance  of  two  hundred  and  ten  miles — it  averages 
from  six  to  sixty  yards. 

Here,  then,  more  than  ever,  one  seems  to  see  how 
entirely  these  lands  which  we  call  Egypt  and  Nubia  are 
nothing  but  the  banks  of  one  solitary  river  in  the  midst  of 
a  world  of  desert.  In  Egypt,  the  valley  is  often  so  wide 
that  one  forgets  the  stony  waste  beyond  the  corn-lands. 
But  in  Nubia  the  desert  is  ever  present.  AVe  cannot 
forget  it,  if  we  would.  The  barren  mountains  press  upon 
our  path,  showering  down  avalanches  of  granite  on  the 
one  side  and  torrents  of  yellow  sand  on  the  other.  We 
know  that  those  stones  are  always  falling;  that  those  sands 
are  always  drifting;  that  the  river  has  hard  work  to  hold 
its  own;  and  that  the  desert  is  silently  encroaching  day  by 
day. 

These  golden  sand-streams  are  the  newest  and  most 
beautiful  features  in  the  landscape.  They  pour  down  from 
the  high  level  of  the  Libyan  desert  just  as  the  snows  of 
Switzerland  pour  down  from  the  upper  plateaux  of  the 
Alps.  Through  every  ravine  and  gap  they  find  a  channel 
— here  trickling  in  tiny  rivulets;  flowing  yonder  in  broad 
torrents  that  widen  to  the  river. 

Becalmed  a  few  miles  above  Philse,  we  found  ourselves 
at  the  foot  of  one  of  these  largest  drifts.  The  M.  B.'s 
challenged  us  to  climb  the  slope  and  see  the  sunset  from 
the  desert.     It  was  about  six  o'clock,  and  the  thermometer 


PIIIL^J  TO  KOBOSKO.  213 

was  standing  at  80°  in  the  coolest  corner  of  the  large 
saloon.  We  ventured  to  suggest  that  the  top  was  a  long 
way  up  ;  but  the  M.  B.'s  would  take  no  refusal.  So 
away   we  went;    panting,   breathless,   bewailing  our  hard 

fate.    L and  the  writer  had  done  some  difficult  walking 

in  their  time,  over  ice  and  snow,  on  lava  cold  and  hot,  up 
cinder-slopes  and  beds  of  mountain  torrents ;  hut  this 
innocent-looking  sand-drift  proved  quite  as  hard  to  climb 
as  any  of  them.  The  sand  lies  wonderfully  loose  and 
light,  and  is  as  hot  as  if  it  had  been  baked  in  an  oven. 
Into  this  the  foot  plunges  ankle-deep,  slipping  back  at 
every  step,  and  leaving  a  huge  hole  into  which  the  sand 
pours  down  again  like  water.  Looking  back,  you  trace 
your  course  by  a  succession  of  funnel-shaped  pits,  each 
larger  than  a  wash-hand  basin.  Though  your  slipper  be 
as  small  as  Cinderella's,  the  next  comer  shall  not  be  able 
to  tell  whether  it  was  a  lady  who  went  up  last,  or  a  camel. 
It  is  toilsome  work,  too;  for  the  foot  finds  neither  rest  nor 
resistance,  and  the  strain  upon  the  muscles  is  unremitting. 

But  the  beauty  of  the  sand  more  than  repays  the  fatigue 
of  climbing  it.  Smooth,  sheeny,  satiny;  fine  as  diamond- 
dust;  supple,  undulating,  luminous,  it  lies  in  the  most 
exquisite  curves  and  wreaths,  like  a  snow-drift  turned  to 
gold.  Remodeled  by  every  breath  that  blows,  its  ever- 
varying  surface  presents  an  endless  play  of  delicate  lights 
and  shadows.  There  lives  not  the  sculptor  who  could 
render  those  curves;  and  I  doubt  whether  Turner  himself, 
in  his  tenderest  and  subtlest  mood,  could  have  done 
justice  to  those  complex  grays  and  ambers. 

Having  paused  to  rest  upon  an  out-cropping  ledge  of 
rock  about  half-way  up,  we  came  at  length  to  the  top  of 
the  last  slope  and  found  ourselves  on  the  level  of  the  desert. 
Here,  faithful  to  the  course  of  the  river,  the  first  objects  to 
meet  our  eyes  were  the  old  familiar  telegraph  posts  and 
wires.  Beyond  them,  to  north  and  south,  a  crowd  of 
peaks  closed  in  the  view;  but  westward,  a  rolling  waste  of 
hillock  and  hollow  opened  away  to  where  the  sun,  a  crim- 
son globe,  had  already  half-vanished  below  the  rim  of  the 
world. 

One  could  not  resist  going  a  few  steps  farther,  just  to 
touch  the  nearest  of  those  telegraph  posts.  It  was  like 
reaching  out  a  hand  toward  home. 

When   the  sun   dropped  we  turned  back.     The  valley 


214  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

below  was  already  steeped  in  dusk.  The  Nile,  glimmering 
like  a  coiled  snake  in  the  shade,  reflected  the  evening  sky 
in  three  separate  reaches.  On  the  Arabian  side  a  far- oil 
mountain-chain  stood  out,  purple  and  jagged,  against  the 
eastern  horizon. 

To  come  down  was  easy.  Driving  our  heels  well  into 
the  sand,  we  half  ran,  half  glissaded,  and  soon  reached  the 
bottom.  Here  we  were  met  by  an  old  Nubian  woman, 
who  had  trudged  up  in  all  haste  from  the  nearest  village 
to  question  our  sailors  about  one  Yusef,  her  son,  of  whom 
she  had  heard  nothing  for  nearly  a  year.  She  was  a  very 
poor  old  woman — a  widow  —  and  this  Yusef  was  her  only 
son.  Hoping  to  better  himself  he  had  worked  his  passage 
to  Cairo  in  a  cargo-boat  some  eighteen  months  ago.  Twice 
since  then  he  had  sent  her  messages  and  money;  but  now 
eleven  months  had  gone  by  in  silence,  and  she  feared  he 
must  be  dead.  Meanwhile  her  date-palm,  taxed  to  the 
full  value  of  its  produce,  had  this  year  yielded  not  a 
piaster  of  profit.  Her  mud  hut  had  fallen  in,  and  there 
was  no  Yusef  to  repair  it.  Old  and  sick,  she  now  could 
only  beg  ;  and  her  neighbors,  by  whose  charity  she  sub- 
sisted, were  but  a  shade  less  poor  than  herself. 

Our  men  knew  nothing  of  the  missing  Yusef.  Rei's 
Hassan  promised  when  he  went  back  to  make  inquiries 
among  the  boatmen  of  Boulak.  "But  then,"  he  added, 
"there  are  so  many  Yusefs  in  Cairo!" 

It  made  one's  heart  ache  to  see  the  tremulous  eagerness 
with  which  the  poor  soul  put  her  questions,  and  the 
crushed  look  in  her  face  when  she  turned  away. 

And  now,  being  fortunate  in  respect  of  the  wind,  which 
for  the  most  part  blows  steadily  from  the  north  between 
sunrise  and  sunset,  we  make  good  progress,  and  for  the 
next  ten  days  live  pretty  much  on  board  our  dahabeeyah. 
The  main  features  of  the  landscape  go  on  repeating  them- 
selves with  but  little  variation  from  day  to  day.  The 
mountains  wear  their  habitual  livery  of  black  and  gold. 
The  river,  now  widening,  now  narrowing,  flows  between 
banks  blossoming  with  lentils  and  lupins.  With  these, 
and  yellow  acacia-tufts,  and  blue  castor-oil  berries,  and  the 
weird  coloquintida,  with  its  downy  leaf  and  milky  juice 
and  puff  bladder  fruit,  like  a  green  peach  tinged  with 
purple,  we  make  our  daily  bouquet  for  the  dinner-table. 
All  other  flowers  have  vanished,  and  even  these  are  hard  to 


PHILJE  TO  KOROSKO.  215 

get  in  a  land  where  every  green  blade  is  precious  to  the 
grower. 

Now,  too,  the  climate  becomes  sensibly  warmer.  The 
heat  of  the  sun  is  so  great  at  midday  that,  even  with  the 
north  breeze  blowing,  we  can  no  longer  sit  on  deck  between 
twelve  and  three.  Toward  sundown,  when  the  wind 
drops,  it  turns  so  sultry  that  to  take  a  walk  on  shore 
comes  to  be  regarded  as  a  duty  rather  than  as  a  pleasure. 
Thanks,  however,  to  that  indomitable  painter  who  is 
always  ready  for  an  afternoon  excursion,  we  do  sometimes 
walk  for  an  hour  before  dinner;  striking  off  generally  into 
the  desert ;  looking  for  onyxes  and  carnelians  among  the 
pebbles  that  here  and  there  strew  the  surface  of  the  sand, 
and  watching  in  vain  for  jackals  and  desert-hares. 

Sometimes  we  follow  the  banks  instead  of  the  desert, 
coming  now  and  then  to  a  creaking  sakkieh  turned  by  a 
melancholy  buffalo  ;  or  to  a  native  village  hidden  behind 
dwarf-palms.  Here  each  hut  has  its  tiny  forecourt,  in  the 
midst  of  which  stand  the  mud  oven  and  mud  cupboard  of 
the  family — two  dumpy  cones  of  smooth  gray  clay,  like 
big  chimney-pots  —  the  one  capped  with  a  lid,  the  other 
fitted  with  a  little  wooden  door  and  wooden  bolt.  Some  of 
the  houses  have  a  barbaric  ornament  palmed  off,  so  to  say, 
upon  the  walls;  the  pattern  being  simply  the  impression  of 
a  human  hand  dipped  in  red  or  yellow  ocher  and  applied 
while  the  surface  is  moist. 

The  amount  of  "  bazaar"  that  takes  place  whenever  we 
enter  one  of  these  villages  is  quite  alarming.  The  dogs 
first  give  notice  of  our  approach ;  and  presently  we 
are  surrounded  by  all  the  women  and  girls  of  the  place, 
offering  live  pigeons,  eggs,  vegetable  marrows,  necklaces, 
nose-rings  and  silver  bracelets  for  sale.  The  boys  pester  us 
to  buy  wretched,  half-dead  chameleons.  The  men  stand 
aloof,  and  leave  the  bargaining  to  the  women. 

And  the  women  not  only  know  how  to  bargain,  but  how 
to  assess  the  relative  value  of  every  coin  that  passes  current 
on  the  Nile.  Rupees,  roubles,  reyals,  dollars  and  shillings 
are  as  intelligible  to  them  as  paras  or  piasters.  Sovereigns 
are  not  too  heavy  nor  napoleons  too  light  for  them.  The 
times  are  changed  since  Belzoni's  Nubian,  after  staring 
contemptuously  at  the  first  piece  of  money  he  had  ever 
seen,  asked:  "Who  would  give  anything  for  that  small 
piece  of  metal?" 


210  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

The  necklaces  consist  of  onyx,  carnelian,  bone,  silver, 
and  colored  glass  beads,  with  now  and  then  a  stray  scarab 
or  amulet  in  the  ancient  blue  porcelian.  The  arrangement 
of  color  is  often  very  subtle.  The  brow-pendants  in  gold 
repoussee,  and  the  massive  old  silver  bracelets,  rough  with 
knobs  and  bosses,  are  most  interesting  in  design,  and  per- 
petuate patterns  of  undoubted  antiquity.  The  M.  B.'s 
picked  up  one  really  beautiful  collarette  of  silver  and  coral, 
which  might  have  been  worn  three  thousand  years  ago  by 
Pharaoh's  daughter. 

When  on  board,  we  begin  now  to  keep  a  sharp  lookout 
for  crocodiles.  "We  hear  of  them  constantly — see  their 
tracks  upon  the  sand-banks  in  the  river — go  through 
agonies  of  expectation  over  every  black  speck  in  the  dis- 
tance; yet  are  perpetually  disappointed.  The  farther  south 
we  go  the  more  impatient  we  become.  The  E's,  whose 
dahabeeyah,  homeward-bound,  drifts  slowly  past  one  calm 
morning,  report  "eleven  beauties,"  seen  altogether  yester- 
day upon  a  sand  island,  some  ten  miles  higher  up.  Mr. 
C.  B.'s  boat,  garlanded  with  crocodiles  from  stem  to  stern, 
tills  us  with  envy.  We  would  give  our  ears  (almost)  to  see 
one  of  these  engaging  reptiles  dangling  from  either  our 
own  mainmast  or  that  cf  the  faithful  Bagstones.  Alfred, 
who  has  set  his  heart  on  bagging  at  least  half  a  dozen,  says 
nothing,  but  grows  gloomier  day  by  day.  At  night,  when 
the  moon  is  up  and  less  misanthropic  folk  are  in  bed  and 
asleep,  he  rambles  moodily  into  the  desert,  after  jackals. 

Meanwhile,  on  we  go,  starting  at  sunrise;  mooring  at 
sunset;  sailing,  tracking,  punting;  never  stopping  for  an 
hour  by  day,  if  we  can  help  it;  and  pushing  straight  for 
Abou  Simbel  with  as  little  delay  as  possible.  Thus  we  pass 
the  pylons  of  Dabod  with  their  background  of  desert; 
Gertassee,  a  miniature  Suniuin,  seen  toward  evening 
against  the  glowing  sunset;  Tafah,  rich  in  palms,  with 
white  columns  gleaming  through  green  foliage  by  the 
water  side;  the  cliffs,  islands,  and  rapids  of  Kalabsheh, 
and  the  huge  temple  which  rises  like  a  fortress  in  their 
midst;  Dendur,  a  tiny  chapel  with  a  single  pylon;  and 
Gerf  Hossayn,  which  from  this  distance  might  be  taken 
for  the  mouth  of  a  rock-cut  tomb  in  the  face  of  the  preci- 
pice. About  half  way  between  Kalabsheh  and  Dendur,  we 
enter  the  tropic  of  cancer.  From  this  day  till  the  day 
when  we  repass  that  invisible  boundary,  there  is  a  marked 


PIIILJE  TO  KOROSKO.  217 

change  in  the  atmospheric  conditions  under  which  we  live. 
The  days  get  gradually  hotter,  especially  at  noon,  when  the 
sun  is  almost  vertical;  but  the  freshness  of  night  and  the 
chill  of  early  morning  are  no  more.  Unless  when  a  strong 
wind  blows  from  the  north,  we  no  longer  know  what  it  is 
to  need  a  shawl  on  deck  in  the  evening;  or  an  extra  cover- 
ing on  our  beds  toward  dawn.  We  sleep  with  our  cabin- 
windows  open,  and  enjoy  a  delicious  equality  of  tempera- 
ture from  sundown  to  sunrise.  The  days  and  nights,  too, 
are  of  almost  equal  length. 

Now,  also,  the  southern  cross  and  a  second  group  of 
stars,  which  we  conclude  must  form  part  of  the  Centaur, 
are  visible  between  two  and  four  every  morning.  They 
have  been  creeping  up,  a  star  at  a  time,  for  the  last  fort- 
night; but  are  still  so  low  upon  the  eastern  horizon  that 
we  can  only  see  them  when  there  comes  a  break  in  the 
mountain-chain  on  that  side  of  the  river.  At  the  same 
time,  our  old  familiar  friends  of  the  northern  hemisphere, 
looking  strangely  distorted  and  decidedly  out  of  their 
proper  place,  are  fast  disappearing  on  the  opposite  side  of 
the  heavens.  Orion  seems  to  be  lying  on  his  back,  and 
the  Great  Bear  to  be  standing  on  his  tail;  while  Cassiopeia 
and  a  number  of  others  have  deserted  en  masse.  The 
zenith,  meanwhile,  is  but  thinly  furnished;  so  that  we 
seem  to  have  traveled  away  from  the  one  hemisphere  and 
not  yet  to  have  reached  the  other.  As  for  the  Southern 
Cross,  we  reserve  our  opinion  till  we  get  farther  south.  It 
would  be  treason  to  hint  that  we  are  disappointed  in  so 
famous  a  constellation. 

After  Gerf  Hossayn,  the  next  place  of  importance  for 
which  our  maps  bid  us  lookout,  is  Dakkeh.  As  we  draw 
near,  expecting  hourly  to  see  something  of  the  temple,  the 
Nile  increases  in  breadth  and  beauty.  It  is  a  peaceful, 
glassy  morning.  The  men  have  been  tracking  since 
dawn,  and  stop  to  breakfast  at  the  foot  of  a  sandy  bank, 
wooded  with  tamarisks  and  gum-trees.  A  glistening  net- 
work of  gossamer  floats  from  bough  to  bough.  The  sky 
overhead  is  of  a  tender,  luminous  blue,  such  as  we  never 
see  in  Europe.  The  air  is  wonderfully  still.  The  river, 
which  here  takes  a  sudden  bend  toward  the  east,  looks  like 
a  lake  and  seems  to  be  barred  ahead  by  the  desert.  Pres- 
ently a  funeral  passes  along  the  opposite  bank;  the  chief 
mourner   nourishing  a  long  staff,  like  a  drum-major;  the 


218  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

women  snatching  up  handfuls    of    dust  and   scattering   it 

upon  their  heads.  We  hear  their  wild  wail  long  after  the 
procession  is  out  of  sight. 

Going  on  again  presently,  our  whole  attention  becomes 
absorbed  by  the  new  and  singular  geological  features  of  the 
Libyan  desert.  A  vast  plain  covered  with  isolated  mount- 
ains of  volcanic  structure,  it  looks  like  some  strange 
transformation  of  the  Puy  de  Dome  plateau,  with  all 
its  wind-swept  pastures  turned  to  sand  and  its  grassy 
craters  stripped  to  barrenness.  The  more  this  plain 
widens  out  before  our  eyes,  the  more  it  bristles  with  peaks. 
As  we  round  the  corner,  and  Dakkeh,  like  a  smaller  Edfu, 
comes  into  sight  upon  the  western  bank,  the  whole  desert 
on  that  side,  as  far  as  the  eve  can  see,  presents  the  unmis- 
takable aspect  of  one  vast  field  of  volcanoes.  As  in  Au- 
vergne,  these  cones  are  of  all  sizes  and  heights;  some  low 
and  rounded,  like  mere  bubbles  that  have  cooled  without 
bursting;  others  ranging  apparently  from  one  thousand  to 
fifteen  hundred  feet  in  height.  The  broken  craters  of  sev- 
eral are  plainly  distinguishable  by  the  help  of  a  field-glass. 
One  in  particular  is  so  like  our  old  friend  the  Puy  de  Pa- 
riou  that  in  a  mere  black-and-white  sketch  the  one  might 
readily  be  mistaken  for  the  other. 

We  were  surprised  to  find  no  account  of  the  geology  of 
this  district  in  any  of  our  books.  Murray  and  Wilkinson 
pass  it  in  silence;  and  writers  of  travels — one  or  two  of 
whom  notice  only  the  "pyramidal  "  shape  of  the  hills — 
are  for  the  most  part  content  to  do  likewise.  None  seem 
to  have  observed  their  obvious  volcanic  origin. 

Thanks  to  a  light  breeze  that  sprang  up  in  the  afternoon, 
we  were  able  to  hoist  our  big  sail  again  and  to  relieve  the 
men  from  tracking.  Thus  we  glided  past  the  ruins  of  Ma- 
harrakeh,  which,  seen  from  the  river,  looked  like  a  Greek 
portico  set  in  a  hollow  waste  of  burning  desert.  Next 
came  Wady  Sabooah,  a  temple  half-buried  in  sand,  near 
which  we  met  a  tiny  dahabeeyah,  manned  by  two  Nubians 
and  flying  the  star  and  crescent.  A  shabby  government 
inspector,  in  European  dress  and  a  fez,  lay  smoking  on  a 
mat  outside  his  cabin  door ;  while  from  a  spar  overhead 
there  hung  a  mighty  crocodile.  The  monster  was  of  a 
greenish-brown  color  and  measured  at  least  sixteen  feet 
from  head  to  tail.  His  jaws  yawned;  and  one  flat  and 
flabby  arm  and  ponderous  paw  swung  with  the  motion  of 
the  boat,  looking  horribly  human. 


PI1ILM  TO  KOROSKO-  210 

The  painter,  with  an  eye  to  foregrounds,  made  a  bid  for 
him  on  the  spot;  but  the  shabby  inspector  was  not  to  be 
moved  by  considerations  of  gain.  He  preferred  his  croco- 
dile to  infidel  gold,  and  scarcely  deigned  even  to  reply  to 
the  offer. 

Seen  in  the  half-light  of  a  tropical  after-glow — the  pur- 
ple mountains  coming  down  in  detached  masses  to  the 
water's  edge  on  the  one  side;  the  desert  with  its  volcanic 
peaks  yet  rosy  upon  the  other — we  thought  the  approach 
to  Korosko  more  picturesque  than  anything  we  had  yet 
seen  south  of  the  cataract.  As  the  dusk  deepened  the 
moon  rose  ;  and  the  palms  that  had  just  room  to  grow 
between  the  mountains  and  the  river  turned  from  bronze 
to  silver.  It  was  half-twilight,  half-moonlight,  by  the 
time  we  reached  the  mooring-place  where  Talhamy,  who 
had  been  sent  forward  in  the  small  boat  half  an  hour  ago, 
jumped  on  board  laden  with  a  packet  of  letters  and  a  sheaf 
of  newspapers.  For  here,  where  the  great  caravan-route 
leads  off  across  the  desert  to  Khartum,  we  touched  the 
first  Nubian  postoffice.  It  was  only  ten  days  since  we  had 
received  our  last  budget  at  Assfian;  but  it  seemed  like  ten 
weeks. 


220  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

KOROSKO    TO   ABOU    SIMBEL. 

It  so  happened  that  we  arrived  at  Korosko  on  the  eve  of 
El-Id  el-Kebir,  or  the  anniversary  of  the  sacrifice  of  Abra- 
ham ;  when,  according  to  the  Moslem  version,  Ishmael 
was  the  intended  victim  and  a  ram  the  substituted  offering. 
Now  El-Id  el-Kebir,  being  one  of  the  great  feasts  of  the 
Mohammedan  calendar,  is  a  day  of  gifts  and  good  wishes. 
The  rich  visit  their  friends  and  distribute  meat  to  the 
poor;  and  every  true  believer  goes  to  the  mosque  to  say  his 
prayers  in  the  morning.  So,  instead  of  starting  as  usual  at 
sunrise,  we  treated  our  sailors  to  a  sheep  and  waited  till 
past  noon,  that  they  might  have  a  holiday. 

They  began  the  day  by  trooping  off  to  the  village  mosque 
in  all  the  glory  of  new  blue  blouses,  spotless  turbans  and 
scarlet  leather  slippers;  then  loitered  about  till  dinner- 
time, when  the  said  sheep,  stewed  with  lentils  and  garlic, 
brought  the  festivities  to  an  end.  It  was  a  thin  and 
ancient  beast  and  must  have  been  horribly  tough;  but  an 
epicure  might  have  envied  the  childlike  enjoyment  with 
which  our  honest  fellows  squatted,  cross-legged  and  happy, 
round  the  smoking  cauldron  ;  chattering,  laughing,  feast- 
ing; dipping  their  fingers  in  the  common  mess;  washing 
the  whole  down  with  long  draughts  of  Nile  water;  and 
finishing  off  with  a  hubble-bubble  passed  from  lip  to  lip 
and  a  mouthful  of  muddy  coffee.  By  a  little  after  midday 
they  had  put  off  their  finery,  harnessed  themselves  to  the 
tow-rope  and  set  to  work  to  haul  us  through  the  rocky 
shoals  which  here  impede  the  current. 

From  Korosko  to  Derr,  the  actual  distance  is  about 
eleven  miles  and  a  half;  but  what  with  obstructions  in  the 
bed  of  the  river,  and  what  with  a  wind  that  would  have 
been  favorable  but  for  another  great  bend  which  the  Nile 
takes  toward  the  east,  those  eleven  miles  and  a  half  cost  us 
the  best  part  of  two  days'  hard  tracking. 


KOBOSKO  TO  ABOV  SIMBEL.  221 

Landing  from  time  to  time  when  the  boat  was  close  in 
shore,  we  found  the  order  of  planting  everywhere  the 
same,  lupins  and  lentils  on  the  slope  against  the  water- 
line;  an  uninterrupted  grove  of  palms  on  the  edge  of  the 
bank;  in  the  space  beyond,  fields  of  cotton  and  young 
corn;  and  then  the  desert.  The  arable  soil  was  divided 
off,  as  usual,  by  hundreds  of  water  channels,  and  seemed 
to  be  excellently  farmed  as  well  as  abundantly  irrigated. 
Not  a  weed  was  to  be  seen;  not  an  inch  of  soil  appeared  to 
be  wasted.  In  odd  corners  where  there  was  room  for 
nothing  else,  cucumbers  and  vegetable-marrows  flourished 
and  bore  fruit.  Nowhere  had  we  seen  castor-berries  so 
large,  cotton-pods  so  full,  or  palms  so  lofty. 

Here  also,  for  the  first  time  out  of  Egypt,  we  observed 
among  the  bushes  a  few  hoopoes  and  other  small  birds; 
and  on  a  sand-slope  down  by  the  river  a  group  of  wild 
ducks.  We — that  is  to  say,  one  of  the  M.  B.'s  and  the 
writer — had  wandered  off  that  way  in  search  of  crocodiles. 
The  two  dahabeeyahs,  each  with  its  file  of  trackers,  were 
slowly  laboring  up  against  the  current  about  a  mile  away. 
All  was  intensely  hot  and  intensely  silent.  We  had 
walked  far  and  had  seen  no  crocodile.  What  we  should 
have  done  if  we  had  met  one  I  am  not  prepared  to  say. 
Perhaps  we  should  have  run  away.  At  all  events,  we  were 
just  about  to  turn  back  when  we  caught  sight  of  the  ducks 
sunning  themselves,  half  asleep,  on  the  brink  of  a  tiny 
pool  about  an  eighth  of  a  mile  away. 

Creeping  cautiously  under  the  bank,  we  contrived  to  get 
within  a  few  yards  of  them.  They  were  four — a  drake,  a 
duck,  and  two  young  ones — exquisitely  feathered  and  as 
small  as  teal.  The  parent-birds  could  scarcely  have 
measured  more  than  eight  inches  from  head  to  tail.  All 
alike  had  chestnut-colored  heads  with  a  narrow  buff  stripe 
down  the  middle,  like  a  parting  ;  maroon  backs  ;  wing- 
feathers  maroon  and  gray;  and  tails  tipped  with  buff. 
They  were  so  pretty,  and  the  little  family  party  was  so 
complete,  that  the  writer  could  not  help  secretly  rejoicing 
that  Alfred  and  his  gun  were  safe  on  board  the  Bagstones. 

High  above  the  Libyan  bank  on  the  sloping  verge  of  the 
desert,  stands,  half-drowned  in  sand,  the  little  temple  of 
Amada.  Seeing  it  from  the  opposite  side  while  duck- 
hunting  in  the  morning,  I  had  taken  it  for  one  of  the 
many  stone   shelters  erected   by  Mohammed  Ali  for   the 


222  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

accommodation  of  cattle  levied  annually  in  the  Soudan.  It 
proved,  however,  to  be  a  temple,  small  but  massive;  built 
with  squared  blocks  of  sandstone;  and  dating  back  to  the 
very  old  times  of  the  Usurtesens  and  Thothmes.  It  con- 
sists of  a  portico,  a  transverse  atrium,  and  three  small 
chambers.  The  pillars  of  the  portico  are  mere  square 
piers.  The  rooms  are  small  and  low.  The  roof,  con- 
structed of  oblong  blocks,  is  flat  from  end  to  end.  As  an 
architectural  structure  it  is  in  fact  but  a  few  degrees 
removed  from  Stonehenge. 

A  shed  without,  this  little  temple  is,  however,  a  cameo 
within.  Nowhere,  save  in  the  tomb  of  Ti,  had  we  seen 
bas-reliefs  so  delicately  modeled,  so  rich  in  color.  Here, 
as  elsewhere,  the  walls  are  covered  with  groups  of  kings 
and  gods  and  hieroglyphic  texts.  The  figures  are  slender 
and  animated.  The  head-dresses,  jewelry,  and  patterned 
robes  are  elaborately  drawn  and  painted.  Every  head 
looks  like  a  portrait;  every  hieroglyphic  form  is  a  study  in 
miniature. 

Apart  from  its  exquisite  finish,  the  wall-sculpture  of 
Amada  has,  however,  nothing. in  common  with  the  wall- 
sculpture  of  the  ancient  empire.  It  belongs  to  the  period 
of  Egyptian  renaissance;  and,  though  inferior  in  power 
and  naturalness  to  the  work  of  the  elder  school,  it  marks 
just  that  moment  of  special  development  when  the  art  of 
modeling  in  low  relief  had  touched  the  highest  level  to 
which  it  ever  again  attained.  That  highest  level  belongs 
to  the  reigns  of  Thothmes  II  and  Thothmes  III; 
just  as  the  perfect  era  in  architecture  belongs  to  the 
reigns  of  Seti  I  and  Barneses  II.  It  is  for  this  reason 
that  Amada  is  so  precious.  It  registers  an  epoch  in 
the  history  of  the  art,  and  gives  us  the  best  of 
that  epoch  in  the  hour  of  its  zenith.  The  sculptor 
is  here  seen  to  be  working  within  bounds  already  pre- 
scribed; yet  within  those  bounds  he  still  enjoys  a  certain 
liberty.  His  art,  though  largely  conventionalized,  is  not 
yet  stereotyped.  His  sense  of  beauty  still  finds  expression. 
There  is,  in  short,  a  grace  and  sweetness  about  the  bas- 
relief  designs  of  Amada  for  which  one  looks  in  vain  to  the 
storied  walls  of  Karnak. 

The  chambers  are  half-choked  with  sand  and  we  had  to 
crawl  into  the  sanctuary  upon  our  hands  and  knees.  A 
long  inscription  at  the  upper  end  records  how  Amenhotep 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  S1MBEL.  223 

II,  returning  from  his  first  campaign  against  the  Ruten, 
slew  seven  kings  with  his  own  hand  ;  six  of  whom  were 
gibbeted  upon  the  ramparts  of  Thebes,  while  the  body  of 
the  seventh  was  sent  to  Ethiopia  by  water  and  suspended 
on  the  outer  wall  of  the  city  of  Napata,*  "in  order  that 
the  negroes  might  behold  the  victories  of  the  Pharaoh  in 
all  the  lands  of  the  world." 

In  the  darkest  corner  of  the  atrium  we  observed  a  curi- 
ous tableau  representing  the  king  embraced  by  a  goddess. 
He  holds  a  short,  straight  sword  in  his  right  hand  and  the 
crux  ansata  in  his  left.  On  his  head  he  wears  the  khe- 
persh,  or  war-helmet;  a  kind  of  a  blue  miter  studded  with 
gold  stars  and  ornamented  with  the  royal  asp.  The  god- 
dess clasps  him  lovingly  about  the  neck  and  bends  her  lips 
to  his.  The  artist  has  given  her  the  yellow  complexion 
conventionally  ascribed  to  women  ;  but  her  saucy  mouth 
and  nez  retrousse  are  distinctly  European.  Dressed  in 
the  fashion  of  the  nineteenth  century,  she  might  have 
served  Leech  as  a  model  for  his  girl  of  the  period. 

The  sand  has  drifted  so  high  at  the  back  of  the  temple 
that  one  steps  upon  the  roof  as  upon  a  terrace  only  just 
raised  above  the  level  of  the  desert.  Soon  that  level  will 
be  equal;  and  if  nothing  is  done  to  rescue  it  within  the 
next  generation  or  two,  the  whole  building  will  become 
engulfed  and  its  very  site  be  forgotten. 

The  view  from  the  roof,  looking  back  toward  Korosko 
and  forward  toward  Derr,  is  one  of  the  finest — perhaps 
quite  the  finest  —  in  Nubia.  The  Nile  curves  grandly 
through  the  foreground.  The  palm-woods  of  Derr  are 
green  in  the  distance.  The  mountain  region  which  we 
have  just  traversed  ranges  a  vast  crescent  of  multitudinous 
peaks,  round  two-thirds  of  the  horizon.  Ridge  beyond 
ridge,  chain  beyond  chain,  flushing  crimson  in  light  and 
deepening  through  every  tint  of  amethyst  and  purple  in 
shadow,  those  innumerable  summits  fade  into  tenderest 
blue  upon  the  horizon.  As  the  sun  sets  they  seem  to 
glow;  to  become  incandescent;  to  be  touched  with  flame — 
as  in  the  old  time  when  every  crater  was  a  font  of  fire. 

*  A  city  of  Ethiopia,  identified  with  the  ruins  at  Gebel  Barkel. 
The  worship  of  Amen  was  established  at  Napata  toward  the  end  of 
the  twentieth  dynasty,  and  it  was  from  the  priests  of  Thebes  who 
settled  at  that  time  in  Napata  that  the  Ethiopian  conquerors  of 
Egypt  (twenty-third  dynasty)  were  descended. 


224  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Struggling  next  morning  through  a  maze  of  sand-banks, 
we  reached  Derr  soon  after  breakfast.  This  town — the 
Nubian  capital — lies  a  little  lower  than  the  level  of  the 
bank,  so  that  only  a  few  mud  walls  are  visible  from  the 
river.  Having  learned  by  this  time  that  a  capital  town  is 
but  a  bigger  village,  containing  perhaps  a  mosque  and  a 
market-place,  we  were  not  disappointed  by  the  unimposing 
aspect  of  the  Nubian  metropolis. 

Great,  however,  was  our  surprise  when,  instead  of  the 
usual  clamorous  crowd  screaming,  pushing,  scrambling  and 
bothering  for  backshish,  we  found  the  landing-place 
deserted.  Two  or  three  native  boats  lay  up  under  the 
bank,  empty.  There  was  literally  not  a  soul  in  sight. 
L and  the  little  lady,  eager  to  buy  some  of  the  basket- 
work  for  which  the  place  is  famous,  looked  blank.  Tal- 
hamy,  anxious  to  lay  in  a  store  of  fresh  eggs  and  vegetables, 
looked  blanker. 

We  landed.  Before  us  lay  an  open  space,  at  the  farther 
end  of  which,  facing  the  river,  stood  the  governor's  palace; 
the  said  palace  being  a  magnified  mud  hut,  with  a  frieze 
of  baked  bricks  round  the  top  and  an  imposing  stone  door- 
way. In  this  doorway,  according  to  immemorial  usage, 
the  great  man  gives  audience.  We  saw  him  —  a  mere 
youth,  apparently — puffing  away  at  a  long  chibouque,  in 
the  midst  of  a  little  group  of  graybeard  elders.  They 
looked  at  us  gravely,  immovably;  like  smoking  automata. 
One  longed  to  go  up  and  ask  them  if  they  were  all  trans- 
formed to  black  granite  from  the  waists  to  the  feet  and  if 
the  inhabitants  of  Derr  had  been  changed  into  blue  stones. 

Still  bent  on  buying  baskets,  if  baskets  were  to  be 
bought — bent  also  on  rinding  out  the  whereabouts  of  a  cer- 
tain rock-cut  temple  which  our  books  told  us  to  look  for 
at  the  back  of  the  town,  we  turned  aside  into  a  straggling- 
street  leading  toward  the  desert.  The  houses  looked 
better  built  than  usual ;  some  pains  having  evidently  been 
bestowed  in  smoothing  the  surface  of  the  mud  and  orna- 
menting the  doorways  with  fragments  of  colored  pottery. 
A  cracked  willow-pattern  dinner-plate  set,  like  a  fanlight, 
over  one,  and  a  white  soup-plate  over  another,  came  doubt- 
less from  the  canteen  of  some  English  dahabeeyah,  and 
were  the  pride  of  their  possessors.  Looking  from  end  to 
end  of  this  street  —  and  it  was  a  tolerably  long  one,  with 
the  Nile  at  one  end  and  the  desert  at  the  other — we  saw  no 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  S1MBEL.  225 

sign  or  shadow  of  moving  creature.  Only  one  young 
woman,  hearing  strange  voices  talking  a  strange  tongue, 
peeped  out  suddenly  from  a  half-opened  door  as  we  went 
by  ;  then,  seeing  me  look  at  the  baby  in  her  arms  (which 
was  hideous  and  had  sore  eyes),  drew  her  veil  across  its 
face  and  darted  back  again.  She  thought  I  coveted  her 
treasure  and  she  dreaded  the  Evil  Eye. 

All  at  once  we  heard  a  sound  like  the  far-off  quivering 
cry  of  many  owls.  It  shrilled — swelled — wavered — dropped 
— then  died  away,  like  the  moaning  of  the  wind  tit  sea. 
We  held  our  breath  and  listened.  We  had  never  heard 
anything  so  wild  and  plaintive.  Then  suddenly,  through 
an  opening  between  the  houses,  we  saw  a  great  crowd  on  a 
space  of  rising  ground  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  away. 
This  crowd  consisted  of  men  only — a  close,  turbaned  mass 
some  three  or  four  hundred  in  number  ;  all  standing  quite 
still  and  silent;  all  looking  in  the  same  direction. 

Hurrying  on  to  the  desert  we  saw  the  strange  sight  at 
which  they  were  looking. 

The  scene  was  a  barren  sand-slope  hemmed  in  between 
the  town  and  the  cliffs  and  dotted  over  with  graves.  The 
actors  were  all  women.  Huddled  together  under  a  long 
wall  some  few  hundred  yards  away,  bareheaded  and 
exposed  to  the  blaze  of  the  morning  sun,  they  out- 
numbered the  men  by  a  full  third.  Some  were  sitting, 
some  standing ;  while  in  their  midst,  pressing  round  a 
young  woman  who  seemed  to  act  as  leader,  there  swayed 
and  circled  and  shuffled  a  compact  phalanx  of  dancers. 
Upon  this  young  woman  the  eyes  of  all  were  turned.  A 
black  Cassandra,  she  rocked  her  body  from  side  to  side, 
clapped  her  hands  above  her  head  and  poured  forth  a 
wild  declamatory  chant  which  the  rest  echoed.  This 
chant  seemed  to  be  divided  into  strophes,  at  the  end  of 
each  of  which  she  paused,  beat  her  breast,  and  broke  into 
that  terrible  wail  that  we  had  heard  just  now  from  a 
distance. 

Her  brother,  it  seemed,  had  died  last  night;  and  we  were 
witnessing  his  funeral. 

The  actual  interment  was  over  by  the  time  we  reached 
the  spot ;  but  four  men  were  still  busy  filling  the  grave 
with  sand,  which  they  scraped  up,  a  bowlful  at  a  time, 
ami  stamped  down  with  their  naked  feet. 

The  deceased  being  unmarried,  his  sister  led  the  choir 


226  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

of  mourners.  She  was  a  tall,  gaunt  young  woman  'of  the 
plainest  Nubian  type,  with  high  cheek-bones,  eyes  slanting 
upward  at  the  corners,  and  an  enormous  mouth  full  of 
glittering  teeth.  On  her  head  she  wore  a  white  cloth 
smeared  with  dust.  Her  companions  were  distinguished 
by  a  narrow  white  fillet,  bound  about  the  brow  and  tied 
with  two  long  ends  behind.  They  had  hidden  their  neck- 
laces and  bracelets  and  wore  trailing  robes  and  shawls 
and  loose  trousers  of  black  or  blue  calico. 

We  stood  for  a  long  time  watching  their  uncouth  dance. 
None  of  the  women  seemed  to  notice  us;  but  the  men  made 
way  civilly  and  gravely,  letting  us  pass  to  the  front,  that  we 
might  get  a  better  view  of  the  ceremony. 

By  and  by  an  old  woman  rose  slowly  from  the  midst  of 
those  who  were  sitting  and  moved  with  tottering,  uncertain 
steps  toward  a  higher  point  of  ground,  a  little  apart  from 
the  crowd.  There  was. a  movement  of  compassion  among 
the  men  ;  one  of  whom  turned  to  the  writer  and  said, 
gently:     "  His  mother." 

She  was  a  small,  feeble  old  woman,  very  poorly  clad. 
Her  hands  and  arms  were  like  the  hands  and  arms  of  a 
mum  my,  and  her  withered  black  face  looked  ghastly  under 
its  mask  of  dust.  For  a  few  moments,  swaying  her  body 
slowly  to  and  fro,  she  watched  the  grave-diggers  stamping 
down  the  sand  ;  then  stretched  out  her  arms  and  broke 
into  a  torrent  of  lamentations.  The  dialect  of  Deri*  is 
strange  and  barbarous  ;  but  we  felt  as  if  we  understood 
every  word  she  uttered.  Presently  the  tears  began  to 
make  channels  down  her  cheeks — her  voice  became  choked 
with  sobs  —  and,  falling  down  in  a  sort  of  helpless  heap, 
like  a  broken-hearted  dog,  she  lay  with  her  face  to  the 
ground,  and  there  stayed. 

Meanwhile,  the  sand  being  now  filled  in  and  mounded  up, 
the  men  betook  themselves  to  a  place  where  the  rock  had 
given  way  and  selected  a  couple  of  big  stones  from  the 
debris.  These  they  placed  at  the  head  and  foot  of  the 
grave  and  all  was  done. 

Instantly — perhaps  at  an  appointed  signal,  though  we 
saw  none  given — the  wailing  ceased;  the  women  rose;  every 
tongue  was  loosened;  and   the  whole   became   a  moving, 

*  The  men  hereabout  can  nearly  all  speak  Arabic;  but  the  women 
of  Nubia  know  only  the  Kensee  and  Berberee  tongues,  the  first  of 
which  is  spoken  as  far  as  Korosko, 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  SIMBEL.  22? 

animated,  noisy  throng  dispersing  in  a  dozen  different 
directions. 

We  turned  away  with  the  rest,  the  writer  and  the  painter 
rambling  off  in  search  of  the  temple,  while  the  other  three 
devoted  themselves  to  the  pursuit  of  baskets  and  native 
jewelry.  When  we  looked  back  presently  the  crowd  was 
gone ;  but  the  desolate  mother  still  lay  motionless  in  the 
dust. 

It  chanced  that  we  witnessed  many  funerals  in  Nubia; 
so  many  that  one  sometimes  felt  inclined  to  doubt  whether 
the  governor  of  Assuan  had  not  reported  over-favorably  of 
the  health  of  the  province.  The  ceremonial,  with  its 
dancing  and  chanting,  was  always  much  the  same;  always 
barbaric,  and  in  the  highest  degree  artificial.  One 
would  like  to  know  how  much  of  it  is  derived 
from  purely  African  sources,  and  how  much  from  ancient 
Egyptian  tradition.  The  dance  is  most  probably  Ethio- 
pian. Lepsius,  traveling  through  the  Soudan  in  A.  d.  1844,* 
saw  something  of  the  kind  at  a  funeral  in  Wed  Medi- 
neh,  about  half-way  between  Sennaar  and  Khartum.  The 
white  fillet  worn  by  the  choir  of  mourners  is,  on  the  other 
hand,  distinctly  Egyptian.  We  afterward  saw  it  repre- 
sented in  paintings  of  funeral  processions  on  the  walls  of 
several  tombs  at  Thebes, f  where  the  wailing  women  are 
seen  to  be  gathering  up  the  dust  in  their  hands  and  casting 
it  upon  their  heads,  just  as  they  do  now.  As  for  the  wail 
— beginning  high  and  descending  through  a  scale  divided 
not  by  semi-tones  but  thirds  of  tones  to  a  final  note  about 
an  octave  and  a  half  lower  than  that  from  which  it  started 
— it  probably  echoes  to  this  day  the  very  pitch  and  rhythm 
of  the  wail  that  followed  the  Pharaohs  to  their  sepulchers  in 
the  Valley  of  the  Tombs  of  the  Kings.  Like  the  zaghareet, 
or  joy-cry,  which  every  mother  teaches  to  her  little 
girls  and  which,  it  is  said,  can  only  be  acquired  in  very  early 
youth,  it  has  been  handed  down  from  generation  to  genera- 
tion through  an  untold  succession  of  ages,  The  song  to 
which  the   fellah  works  his  shaduf  and  the  monotonous 

*  Lepsius1  Letters  from  Egypt,  Ethiopia,  etc.  Letter  xviii,  p.  184. 
Bolin's  ed.,  A.  D.  1853. 

f  See  the  interesting  account  of  funereal  rites  and  ceremonies  in 
Sir  GL  Wilkinson's  "Ancient  Egyptians,"  vol.  ii,  cli.  x,  Lond.,  1871. 
Also  wood-cuts  Nos.  493  and  494  in  tlie  same  chapter  of  the  same 
work. 


228  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

chant  of  the  sakkieh-d river  have,  perhaps,  as  remote  an 
origin.  But  of  all  old,  mournful,  human  sounds,  the 
death-wail  that  we  heard  at  Derr  is  perhaps  one  of  the 
very  oldest — certainly  the  most  mournful. 

The  temple  here,  dating  from  the  reign  of  Rameses  II, 
is- of  rude  design  and  indifferent  execution.  Partly  con- 
structed, partly  excavated,  it  is  approached  by  a  forecourt, 
the  roof  of  which  was  supported  by  eight  square  columns. 
Of  these  columns  only  the  bases  remain.  Four  massive 
piers,  against  which  once  stood  four  colossi,  upheld  the 
roof  of  the  portico  and  gave  admission  by  three  entrances 
to  the  rock-cut  chambers  beyond.  The  portico  is  now 
roofless.  Nothing  is  left  of  the  colossi  but  their  feet.  All 
is  ruin;  and  ruin  without  beauty. 

Seen  from  within,  however,  the  place  is  not  without  a 
kind  of  gloomy  grandeur.  Two  rows  of  square  columns, 
three  at  each  side,  divide  the  large  hall  into  a  nave  and 
two  aisles.  This  hall  is  about  forty  feet  square,  and  the 
pillars  have  been  left  standing  in  the  living  rock,  like  those 
in  the  early  tombs  at  Shit.  The  daylight,  half-blocked] 
out  by  the  fallen  portico,  is  pleasantly  subdued,  and  finds 
its  way  dimly  to  the  sanctuary  at  the  farther  end. 
The  sculptures  of  the  interior,  though  much  dam- 
aged, are  less  defaced  than  those  of  the  outer  court. 
Walls,  pillars,  doorways,  are  covered  with  bas-reliefs. 
The  king  and  Ptah,  the  king  and  Ra,  the  king  and 
Amen,  stand  face  to  face,  hand  in  hand,  on  each  of  the 
four  sides  of  every  column.  Scenes  of  worship,  of  slaughter, 
of  anointing,  cover  the  walls;  and  the  blank  spaces  are 
filled  in  as  usual  with  hieroglyphic  inscriptions.  Among 
these  Champollion  discovered  an  imperfect  list  of  the  sons 
and  daughters  of  Rameses  II.  Four  gods  once  sat 
enthroned  at  the  upper  end  of  the  sanctuary;  but  they 
have  shared  the  fate  of  the  colossi  outside  and  oidy  their 
feet  remain.  The  wall  sculptures  of  this  dark  little 
chamber  are,  however,  better  preserved,  and  better  worth 
preservation,  than  those  of  the  hall.  A  procession  of 
priests,  bearing  on  their  shoulders  the  bari,  or  sacred  boat, 
is  quite  unharmed;  and  even  the  color  is  yet  fresh  upon  a 
full-length  figure  of  Ilathor  close  by. 

But  more  interesting  than  all  these — more  interesting 
because  more  rare — is  a  sculptured  palm-tree  against  which 
the  king  leans  while  making  an  offering  to  Amen  Ra.     The 


E0R08K0  TO  ABOU  SIMBEL.  229 

trunk  is  given  with  elaborate  truthfulness;  and  the 
branches,  though  formalized,  are  correct  and  graceful  in 
curvature.  The  tree  is  but  an  accessory.  It  may  have 
been  introduced  with  reference  to  the  date-harvests  which 
are  the  wealth  of  the  district;  but  it  has  no  kind  of  sacred 
significance,  and  is  noticeable  only  for  the  naturalness  of 
the  treatment.  Such  naturalness  is  unusual  in  the  art  of 
this  period,  when  the  conventional  persea  and  the  equally 
conventional  lotus  are  almost  the  only  vegetable  forms 
which  appear  on  the  walls  of  the  temples.  I  can  recall, 
indeed,  But  one  similar  instance  in  the  bas-relief  sculpt- 
ure of  the  new  empire — namely,  the  bent,  broken  and 
waving  bulrushes  in  the  great  lion-hunting  scene  at 
Medinet  Ilabu,  which  are  admirably  free  and  studied,  ap- 
parently, from  nature. 

Coming  out,  we  looked  in  vain  along  the  court-yard  walls 
for  the  battle-scene  in  which  Champollion  was  yet  able  to 
trace  the  famous  fighting  lion  of  Rameses  II  with  the 
legend  describing  him  as  "  the  servant  of  his  majesty  rend- 
ing his  foes  in  pieces. "  But  that  was  forty-five  years  ago. 
Now  it  is  with  difficulty  that  one  detects  a  few  vague  out- 
lines of  chariot-wheels  and  horses. 

There  are  some  rock-cut  tombs  in  the  face  of  the  cliffs 
close  by.  The  painter  explored  them  while  the  writer 
sketched  the  interior  of  the  temple  ;  but  he  reported  of 
them  as  mere  sepulchers,  unpainted  and  unsculptured. 

The  rocks,  the  sands,  the  sky,  were  at  a  white  heat  when 
we  again  turned  our  faces  toward  the  river.  Where  there 
had  so  lately  been  a  great  multitude  there  was  now  not  a 
soul.  The  palms  nodded;  the  pigeons  dozed;  the  mud 
town  slept  in  the  sun.  Even  the  mother  had  gone  from 
her  place  of  weeping  and  left  her  dead  to  the  silence  of 
the  desert. 

We  went  and  looked  at  his  grave.  The  fresh-turned 
sand  was  oidy  a  little  darker  than  the  rest,  and,  but  for  the 
trampled  foot-marks  round  about,  we  should  scarcely  have 
been  able  to  distinguish  the  new  mound  from  the  old  ones. 
All  were  alike  nameless.  Some,  more  cared  for  than  the 
rest,  were  bordered  with  large  stones  and  filled  with  varie- 
gated pebbles.  One  or  two  were  fenced  about  with  a  mud 
wall.  All  had  a  bowl  of  baked  clay  at  the  head.  Wher- 
ever we  saw  a  burial-ground  in  Nubia  we  saw  these  bowls 
upon   the  graves.      The  mourners,  they  told   us,    mourn 


230  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

< 

here  for  forty  days;  during  which  time  they  come  every 
Friday  with  freshwater,  that  the  birds  may  drink  from  it. 
The  bowls  on  the  other  graves  were  dry  and  full  of  sand; 
but  the  new  bowl  was  brimming  full  and  the  water  in  it 
was  hot  to  the  touch. 

We  found  L and  the  happy  coujole  standing  at  bay 

with  their  backs  against  a  big  lebbich  tree,  surrounded  by 
an  immense  crowd  and  far  from  comfortable.  Bent  on 
"bazaaring,"  they  had  probably  shown  themselves  too 
ready  to  buy;  so  bringing  the  whole  population,  with  all 
the  mats,  baskets,  nose-rings,  finger-rings,  necklaces  and 
bracelets  in  the  place  about  their  ears.  Seeing  the  straits 
they  were  in,  we  ran  to  the  dahabeeyah  and  dispatched 
three  or  four  sailors  to  the  rescue,  who  brought  them  off 
in  triumph. 

Even  in  Egypt  it  does  not  answer,  as  a  rule,  to  go  about 
on  shore  without  an  escort.  The  people  are  apt  to  be 
importunate  and  can  with  difficulty  be  kept  at  a  pleasant 
distance.  But  in  Nubia,  where  the  traveler's  life  was 
scarcely  safe  fifty  years  ago,  unprotected  Ingleezeh  are 
pretty  certain  to  be  disagreeably  mobbed.  The  natives, 
in  truth,  are  still  mere  savages  au  fond — the  old  war- 
paint being  but  half-disguised  under  a  thin  veneer  of 
Mohammedanism. 

Some  of  the  women  who  followed  our  friends  to  the 
boat,  though  in  complexion  as  black  as  the  rest,  had  light- 
blue  eyes  and  frizzy  red  hair,  the  effect  of  which  was  inde- 
scribably frightful.  Both  here  and  at  Ibrim  there  are 
many  of  these  "  fair"  families,  who  claim  to  be  descended 
from  Bosnian  fathers  stationed  in  Nubia  at  the  time  of  the 
conquest  of  Sultan  Selim  in  a.  d.  1517  They  are 
immensely  proud  of  their  alien  blood  and  think  them- 
selves quite  beautiful. 

All  hands  being  safe  on  board,  we  pushed  off  at  once, 
leaving  about  a  couple  of  hundred  disconsolate  dealers  on 
the  banki  A  long-drawn  howl  of  disappointment  followed 
in  our  wake.  Those  who  had  sold,  and  those  who  had  not 
sold,  were  alike  wronged,  ruined,  and  betrayed.  One 
woman  tore  wildly  along  the  bank,  shrieking  and  beating 
her  breast.  Foremost  among  the  sellers,  she  had  parted 
from  her  gold  brow-pendant  for  a  good  price  ;  but  was  in- 
consolable now  for  the  loss  of  it. 

It  often  happened   that  those  who  had  been  most  eager 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  8 1MB EL.  231 

to  trade  were  readiest  to  repent  of  their  bargains.  Even 
so,  however,  their  cupidity  outweighed  their  love  of  finery. 
Moved  once  or  twice  by  the  lamentations  of  some  dark 
damsel  who  had  sold  her  necklace  at  a  handsome  profit,  we 
offered  to  annul  the  purchase.  But  it  invariably  proved 
that,  despite  her  tears,  she  preferred  to  keep  the  money. 

The  palms  of  Derr  and  of  the  rich  district  'beyond  were 
the  finest  we  saw  throughout  the  journey.  Straight  and 
strong  aud  magnificently  plumed,  they  rose  to  an  average 
height  of  seventy  or  eighty  feet.  These  superb  planta- 
tions supply  all  Egypt  with  saplings  and  contribute  a 
heavy  tax  to  the  revenue.  The  fruit,  sun-dried  and 
shriveled,  is  also  sent  northward  in  large  quantities. 

The  trees  are  cultivated  with  strenuous  industry  by  the 
natives  and  owe  as  much  of  their  perfection  to  laborious 
irrigation  as  to  climate.  The  foot  of  each  separate  palm 
is  surrounded  by  a  circular  trench,  into  which  the  water  is 
conducted  by  a  small  channel  about  fourteen  inches  in 
width.  Every  palm-grove  stands  in  a  network  of  these 
artificial  runlets.  The  reservoir  from  which  they  are  sup- 
plied is  filled  by  means  of  a  sakkieh,  or  water-wheel — a 
primitive  and  picturesque  machine  consisting  of  two 
wheels,  the  one  set  vertically  to  the  river  and  slung  with  a 
chain  of  pots;  the  other  a  horizontal  cog  turned  sometimes 
by  a  camel,  but  more  frequently  in  Nubia  by  a  buffalo. 
The  pots  (which  go  down  empty,  dip  under  the  water,  and 
come  up  full)  feed  a  sloping  trough  which  in  some  places 
supplies  a  reservoir,  and  in  others  communicates  at  once 
with  the  irrigating  channels.  These  sakkiehs  are  kept 
perpetually  going,  and  are  set  so  close  just  above  Derr, 
that  the  writer  counted  a  line  of  fifteen  within  the  space  of 
a  single  mile.  There  were  probably  quite  as  many  on 
the  opposite  bank. 

The  sakkiehs  creak  atrociously ;  and  their  creaking 
ranges  over  an  unlimited  gamut.  From  morn  till  dewy 
eve,  from  dewy  eve  till  morn,  they  squeak,  they  squeal, 
they  grind,  they  groan,  they  croak.  Heard  after  dark, 
sakkieh  answering  to  sakkieh,  their  melancholy  chorus 
makes  night  hideous.  To  sleep  through  it  is  impossible. 
Being  obliged  to  moor  a  few  miles  beyond  Derr  and  having 
lain  awake  half  the  night,  we  offered  a  sakkieh-driver  a 
couple  of  dollars  if  he  would  let  his  wheel  rest  till  morn- 
ing.    But  time  and  water  are  more  precious  than  even 


232  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

dollars  at  this  season;  and  the  man  refused.  All  we  could 
do,  therefore,  was  to  punt  into  the  middle  of  the  river  and 
lie  off  at  a  point  as  nearly  as  possible  equidistant  from 
our  two  nearest  enemies. 

The  native  dearly  loves  the  tree  which  costs  him  so  much 
labor,  and  thinks  it  the  chef-d'oeuvre  of  creation.  When 
Allah  made  the  first  man,  says  an  Arab  legend,  he  found 
he  had  a  little  clay  to  spare  ;  so  with  that  he  made  the 
palm.  And  to  the  poor  Nubian,  at  all  events,  the  gifts  of 
the  palm  are  almost  divine  ;  supplying  food  for  his  chil- 
dren, thatch  for  his  hovel,  timber  for  his  water-wheel, 
ropes,  matting,  cups,  bowls  and  even  the  strong  drink  for- 
bidden by  the  prophet.  The  date-wine  is  yellowish-white, 
like  whisky.  It  is  not  a  wine,  however,  but  a  spirit; 
coarse,  fiery,  and  unpalatable. 

Certain  trees — as  for  instance  the  perky  little  pine  of  the 
German  wald — are  apt  to  become  monotonous;  but  one 
never  wearies  of  the  palm.  Whether  taken  singly  or  in 
masses,  it  is  always  graceful,  always  suggestive.  To  the 
sketcher  on  the  Nile  it  is  simply  invaluable.  It  breaks  the 
long  parallels  of  river  and  bank  and  composes  with  the 
stern  lines  of  Egyptian  architecture  as  no  other  tree  in  the 
world  could  do. 

"  Subjects,  indeed!"  said  once  upon  a  time  an  eminent 
artist  to  the  present  writer  ;  "fiddlesticks  about  subjects! 
Your  true  painter  can  make  a  picture  out  of  a  post  and  a 
puddle."' 

Substitute  a  palm,  however,  for  a  post;  combine  it  with 
anything  that  comes  first — a  camel,  a  shadvif,  a  woman 
with  a  water-jar  upon  her  head — and  your  picture  stands 
before  you  ready  made. 

Nothing  more  surprised  me  at  first  than  the  color  of  the 
palm-frond,  which  painters  of  eastern  landscape  are  wont 
to  depict  of  a  hard  bluish  tint,  like  the  color  of  a  yucca 
leaf.  Its  true  shade  is  a  tender,  bloomy,  sea-green  gray; 
difficult  enough  to  match,  but  in  most  exquisite  harmony 
with  the  glow  of  the  sky  and  the  gold  of  the  desert. 

The  palm-groves  kept  us  company  for  many  a  mile, 
backed  on  the  Arabian  side  by  long  level  ranges  of  sand- 
stone cliffs,  horizontally  stratified,  like  those  of  the  The- 
baid.  We  now  scarcely  ever  saw  a  village — only  palms  and 
sakkiehs  and  sand-banks  in  the  river.  The  villages  were 
there,  but  invisible,  being  built  on  the  verge  of  the  desert. 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  S1MBEL.  233 

Arable  land  is  too  valuable  in  Nubia  for  either  the  living  to 
dwell  upon  it  or  the  dead  to  be  buried  in  it. 

At  Ibrim — a  sort  of  ruined  Ehrenbreitstein  on  the  top 
of  a  grand  precipice  overhanging  the  river — we  touched  for 
only  a  few  minutes,  in  order  to  buy  a  very  small  shaggy 
sheep  which  bad  been  brought  down  to  the  landing-place 
for  sale.  But  for  the  breeze  that  happened  just  then  to 
be  blowing  we  should  have  liked  to  climb  the  rock  and  see 
the  view  and  the  ruins — which  are  part  modern,  part 
Turkish,  part  Roman,  and  little,  if  at  all,  Egyptian. 

There  are  also  some  sculptured  and  painted  grottoes  to 
be  seen  in  the  southern  face  of  the  mountain.  They  are, 
however,  too  difficult  of  access  to  be  attempted  by  ladies. 
Alfred,  who  went  ashore  after  quail,  was  drawn  up  to  them 
by  ropes,  but  found  them  to  much  defaced  as  to  be 
scarcely  worth  the  trouble  of  a  visit. 

We  were  now  only  thirty-four  miles  from  Abou  Simbel; 
but  making  slow  progress  and  impatiently  counting  every 
foot  of  the  way.  The  heat  at  times  was  great,  frequent 
and  fitful  spells  of  Khamsin  wind  alternating  with  a  hot 
calm  that  tried  the  trackers  sorely.  Still  Ave  pushed  for- 
ward, a  few  miles  at  a  time,  till  by  and  by  the  flat-topped 
cliffs  dropped  out  of  sight  and  were  again  succeeded  by  vol- 
canic peaks,  some  of  which  looked  loftier  than  any  of 
those  about  Dakkeh  or  Korosko. 

Then  the  palms  ceased  and  the  belt  of  cultivated  land 
narrowed  to  a  thread  of  green  between  the  rocks  and  the 
water's  edge;  and  at  last  there  came  an  evening  when  we 
only  wanted  breeze  enough  to  double  two  or  three  more 
bends  in  the  river. 

"  Is  it  to  be  Abou  Simbel  to-night?"  we  asked  for  the 
twentieth  time  before  going  down  to  dinner. 

To  which  Rei's  Hassan  replied:  "  Aivvab"  ("certainly"). 

But  the  pilot  shook  his  head  and  added:  "  Bukra"  ("  to- 
morrow "). 

When  we  came  up  again  the  moon  had  risen  but  the 
breeze  had  dropped.  Still  we  moved,  impelled  by  a  breath 
so  faint  that  one  could  scarcely  feel  it.  Presently  even 
this  failed.  The  sail  collapsed;  the  pilot  steered  for  the 
bank;  the  captain  gave  word  to  go  aloft — when  a  sudden 
puff  from  the  north  changed  our  fortunes  and  sent  us  but 
again  with  a  well-filled  sail  into  the  middle  of  the  river. 

None  of  us,  I  think,  will  be  likely  to  forget  the  sustained 


234  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

excitement  of  the  next  three  hours.  As  the  moon  climbed 
higher  alight  more  mysterious  and  unreal  than  the  light 
of  day  filled  and  overflowed  the  wide  expanse  of  river  and 
desert.  We  could  see  the  mountains  of  Abou  Simbel  stand- 
ing, as  it  seemed,  across  our  path,  in  the  far  distance — a 
lower  one  first;  then  a  larger;  then  a  series  of  receding 
heights,  all  close  together,  yet  all  distinctly  separate. 

That  large  one — the  mountain  of  the  great  temple — held 
us  like  a  spell.  For  a  long  time  it  looked  a  mere  mountain 
like  the  rest.  By  and  by,  however,  we  fancied  we  detected 
a  something — a  shadow — such  a  shadow  as  might  be  cast 
by  a  gigantic  buttress.  Next  appeared  a  black  speck,  no 
bigger  than  a  port-hole.  We  knew  that  this  black  speck 
must  be  the  doorway.  We  knew  that  the  great  statues 
were  there,  though  not  yet  visible,  and  that  we  must  soon 
see  them. 

For  our  sailors,  meanwhile,  there  was  the  excitement  of 
a  chase.  The  Bagstones  and  three  other  dahabeeyahs 
were  coming  up  behind  us  in  the  path  of  the  moonlight. 
Their  galley  fires  glowed  like  beacons  on  the  water;  the 
nearest  about  a  mile  away,  the  last  a  spark  in  the  distance. 
We  were  not  in  the  mood  to  care  much  for  racing  to-night, 
but  we  were  anxious  to  keep  our  lead  and  be  first  at  the 
mooring  place. 

To  run  upon  a  sand-bank  at  such  a  moment  was  like 
being  plunged  suddenly  into  cold  water.  Our  sail  flapped 
furiously.  The  men  rushed  to  the  pun  ting-poles.  Four 
jumped  overboard  and  shoved  with  all  the  might  of  their 
shoulders.  By  the  time  we  got  off,  however,  the  other  boats 
had  crept  up  half  a  mile  nearer,  and  we  had  hard  work  to 
keep  them  from  pressing  closer  on  our  heels. 

At  length  the  last  corner  was  rounded  and  the  great 
temple  stood  straight  before  us.  The  facade,  sunk  in  the 
mountain  side  like  a  huge  picture  in  a  mighty  frame,  was 
now  quite  plain  to  see.  The  black  speck  was  no  longer  a 
port-hole,  but  a  lofty  doorway. 

Last  of  all,  though  it  was  night,  and  they  were  still  not 
much  less  than  a  mile  away,  the  four  colossi  came  out, 
ghostlike,  vague  and  shadowy,  in  the  enchanted  moon- 
light. Even  as  we  watched  them  they  seemed  to  grow,  to 
dilate,  to  be  moving  toward  us  out  of  the  silvery  distance. 

It  was  drawing  on  toward  midnight  when  the  Philai 
at  length  ran  in  close  under   the   great   temple.     Content 


KOROSKO  TO  ABOU  SIMBEL.  235 

with  what  they  had  seen  from  the  river  the  rest  of  the 
party  then  went  soberly  to  bed;  but  the  painter  and  the  writer 
had  no  patience  to  wait  till  morning.  Almost  before  the 
mooring- rope  could  be  made  fast  they  had  jumped  ashore 
and  began  climbing  the  bank. 

They  went  and  stood  at  the  feet  of  the  colossi,  and  on 
the  threshold  of  that  vast  portal  beyond  which  was  dark- 
ness. The  great  statues  towered  above  their  heads.  The 
river  glittered  like  steel  in  the  far  distance.  There  was  a 
keen  silence  in  the  air  ;  and  toward  the  east  the  Southern 
Cross  was  rising.  To  the  strangers  who  stood  talking- 
there  with  bated  breath,  the  time,  the  place,  even  the 
sound  of  their  own  voices,  seemed  unreal.  They  felt  as  if 
the  whole  scene  must  fade  with  the  moonlight,  and  vanish 
before  morning. 


236  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XV. 

KAMESES   THE    GKEAT. 

The  central  figure  of  Egyptian  history  has  always  been, 
probably  always  will  be,  Rameses  II.  He  holds  this  place 
partly  by  right,  partly  by  accident.  He  was  born  to  great- 
ness; he  achieved  greatness  ;  and  he  had  borrowed  great- 
ness thrust  upon  him.  It  was  bis  singular  destiny  not 
only  to  be  made  a  posthumous  usurper  of  glory,  but  to  be 
forgotten  by  his  own  name  and  remembered  in  a  variety  of 
aliases.  As  Sesoosis,  as  Osymandias,  as  Sesostris,  he 
became  credited  in  course  of  time  with  all  the  deeds  of  all 
the  heroes  of  the  new  empire,  beginning  with  Thothmes  III, 
who  preceded  him  by  three  hundred  years,  and  ending  with 
Sheshonk,  the  captor  of  Jerusalem,  who  lived  four  centuries 
after  him.  Modern  science,  however,  has  repaired  this 
injustice;  and,  while  disclosing  the  long-lost  names  of  a 
brilliant  succession  of  sovereigns,  has  enabled  us  to  ascribe 
to  each  the  honors  which  are  his  due.  We  know  now  that 
some  of  these  were  greater  conquerors  than  Rameses  II. 
We  suspect  that  some  were  better  rulers.  Yet  the  popu- 
lar hero  keeps  his  ground.  What  he  has  lost  by  interpre- 
tation on  the  one  hand,  he  has  gained  by  interpretation  on 
the  other;  and  the  beau  sabreur  of  the  "  Third  SallierPapy- 
rus  "  remains  to  this  day  the  representative  Pharaoh  of  a 
line  of  monarchs  whose  history  covers  a  space  of  fifty  cent- 
uries, and  whose  frontiers  reached  at  one  time  from 
Mesopotamia  to  the  ends  of  the  Soudan. 

The  interest  that  one  takes  in  Rameses  II  begins  at 
Memphis  and  goes  on  increasing  all  the  way  up  the  river. 
It  is  a  purely  living,  a  purely  personal  interest;  such  as  one 
feels  in  Athens  for  Pericles,  or  in  Florence  for  Lorenzo  the 
Magnificent.  Other  Pharaohs  but  languidly  affect  the 
imagination.  Thothmes  and  Amenhotep  are  to  us  as  Da- 
rius or  Artaxerxes — shadows  that  come  and  go  in  the  dis- 
tance.    But  with  he  second  Rameses  we  are  on  terms  of  re- 


RAM  EXES  THE  GREAT. 


•2?A 


CARTOUCHES  OF  RAMESES  THE  GREAT. 


spectful  intimacy.  We  seem  to  know  the  man — to  feel  his 
presence — to  hear  his  name  in  the  air.  His  features  are  as 
familiar  to  us  as  those  of  Henry  VIII  or  Louis  XIV. 
His  cartouches  meet  us  at  every  turn.  Even  to  those  who 
do  not  read  the  hieroglyphic  character,  those  well-known 
signs  convey  by  sheer  force  of  association  the  name  and  style 
of  Rameses,  beloved  of  Amen. 

This  being  so,  the  traveler  is 
ill-equipped  who  goes  through 
Egypt  without  something  more 
than  a  mere  guide-book  knowl- 
edge of  Rameses  II.  He  is, 
as  it  were,  content  to  read  the 
argument  and  miss  the  poem. 
In  the  desolation  of  Memphis, 
in  the  shattered  splendor  of 
Thebes,  he  sees  only  the  ordi- 
nary pathos  of  ordinary  ruins. 
As  for  Abou  Simbel,  the  most 
stupendous  historical  record 
ever  transmitted  from  the  past  to  the  present,  it  tells  him  a 
but  half-intelligible  story.  Holding  to  the  merest  thread  of 
explanation,  he  wanders  from  hall  to  hall,  lacking  alto- 
gether that  potent  charm  of  foregone  association  which  no 
Murray  can  furnish.  Your  average  Frenchman,  straying 
helplessly  through  Westminister  Abbey  under  the  conduct 
of  the  verger,  has  about  as  vague  a  conception  of  the  his- 
torical import  of  the  things  he  sees. 

What  is  true  of  the  traveler  is  equally  true  of  those  who 
take  the  Nile  vicariously  "  in  connection  with  Mudie."  If 
they  are  to  understand  any  description  of  Abou  Simbel, 
they  must  first  know  something  about  Rameses  II.  Let  us 
then,  while  the  Phila?  lies  moored  in  the  shadow  of  the  rock 
of  Abshek,*  review,  as  summarily  as  may  be,  the  leading 
facts  of  this  important  reign;  such  facts,  that  is  to  say,  as 
are  recorded  in  inscriptions,  papyri,  and  other  contempo- 
rary monuments. 

Rameses  Ilf  was  the  son  of  Seti  I,  the  second  Pharaoh 

*  Abshek:     The  hieroglyphic  name  of  Abou  Simbel.     Gr.  Ahoccis. 

f  In  the  present  state  of  Egyptian  chronology  it  is  hazardous  to 
assign  even  an  approximate  date  to  events  which  happened  before 
the  conquest  of  Canibyses.    The  Egyptians,  in  fact,  had  no  chronology 


238  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

of  the  nineteenth  dynasty  and  of  a  certain  Princess  Tuaa, 
described  on  the  monuments  as  "royal  wife,  royal 
mother,  and  heiress  and  sharer  of  the  thorne."  She  is 
supposed  to  have  been  of  the  ancient  royal  line  of  the 
preceding  dynasty,  and  so  to  have  had,  perhaps,  a  better 
right  than  her  husband  to  the  double  crown  of  Egypt. 
Through  her,  at  all  events,  Eameses  II  seems  to  have 
been  in  some  sense  born  a  king*  equal  in  rank,  if  not  in 
power,  with  his  father ;  his  rights,  moreover,  were 
fully  recognized  by  Seti,  who  accorded  him  royal  and 
divine  honors  from  the  hour  of  his  birth,  or,  in 
the  language  of  the  Egyptian  historians,  while  he 
was  "  yet  in  the  egg."  The  great  dedicatory  in- 
scription of  the  Temple  of  Osiris  at  Abydos,f  relates  how 
his  father  took  the  royal  child  in  his  arms,  when  he  was 
yet  little  more  than  an  infant,  showed  him  to  the  people  as 
their  king,  and  caused  him  to  be  invested  by  the  great 
officers  of  the  palace  with  the  double  crown  of  the  two 
lands.  The  same  inscription  states  that  he  was  a  general 
from  his  birth,  and  that  as  a  nursling  he  "commanded 

in  the  strict  sense  of  the  word.  Being  without  any  fixed  point  of 
departure,  such  as  the  birth  of  Christ,  they  counted  the  events  of 
each  reign  from  the  accession  of  the  sovereign.  Under  such  a  sys- 
tem error  and  confusion  were  inevitable.  To  say  when  Rameses  II 
was  born  and  when  he  died  is  impossible.  The  very  century  in 
which  he  nourished  is  uncertain.  Mariette,  taking  the  historical 
lists  of  Manetho  for  his  basis,  supposes  the  nineteenth  dynasty  to 
have  occupied  the  interval  comprised  within  B,  C.  1462  and  1288; 
according  to  which  computation  (allowing  fifty-seven  years  for  the 
reigns  of  Rameses  I  and  Seti  I)  the  reign  of  Rameses  II  would  date 
from  b.  c.  1405.  Brugsch  gives  him  from  b.  c.  1407  to  b.  c.  1341; 
and  Lepsius  places  his  reign  in  the  sixty- six  years  lying  between 
b.  c.  1388  and  b.  c.  1322;  these  calculations  being  both  made  before 
the  discovery  of  the  Stella  of  Abydos.  Bunsen  dates  his  accession 
from  B.  c.  1352.  Between  the  highest  and  the  lowest  of  these  cal- 
culations there  is,  as  shown  by  the  following  table,  a  difference  of 
fifty-five  years: 

Rameses  II  began  to  reign  b.  c. 

g>  f  Brugsch  ....  1407 
'■B  „  )'  Mariette  ....  1405 
|  2  1  Lepsius  ....  1388 

J  Bunsen  ....         1352 

*  See  chap,  viii,  foot  note,  p.  126. 

t  See  "  Essai  sur  l'lnscription  Dt'dicatoire  du  Temple  d'Abydos  et 
la  Jeunesse  de  Sesotris." — G.  Maspero,  Paris,  1867. 


RAMESES  THE  GREAT.  230 

the  body-guard  and  the  brigade  of  chariot-fighters  ";  but 
these  titles  must,  of  course,  have  been  purely  honorary.  At 
twelve  years  of  age  he  was  formally  associated  with  his 
father  upon  the  throne,  and  by  the  gradual  retirement  of 
Seti  I  from  the  cares  of  active  government  the  co-royalty 
of  Rameses  became,  in  the  course  of  the  next  ten  or  fifteen 
years,  an  undivided  responsibility.  He  was  probably 
about  thirty  when  his  father  died;  and  it  is  from  this  time 
that  the  years  of  his  reign  are  dated.  In  other  words, 
Rameses  II,  in  his  official  records,  counts  only  from  the 
period  of  his  sole  reign,  and  the  year  of  the  death  of  Seti 
is  the  "year  one"  of  the  monumental  inscriptions  of  his 
son  and  successor.  In  the  second,  fourth,  and  fifth  years 
of  his  monarchy,  he  personally  conducted  campaigns  in 
Syria,  more  than  one  of  the  victories  then  achieved  being 
commemorated  on  the  rock-cut  tablets  of  Nahr-el-Kelb, 
near  Beyriit;  and  that  he  was  by  this  time  recognized  as  a 
mighty  warrior  is  shown  by  the  stela  of  Dakkeh,  which 
dates  from  the  "  third  year,"  and  celebrates  him  as  terrible 
in  battle — "  the  bull  powerful  against  Ethiopia,  the  griffin 
furious  against  the  negroes,  whose  grip  has  put  the  mount- 
aineers to  flight."  The  events  of  the  campaign  of  his 
"  fifth  year"  (undertaken  in  order  to  reduce  to  obedience 
the  revolted  tribes  of  Syria  and  Mesopotamia)  are  immor- 
talized in  the  poem  of  Pentaur.*  It  was  on  this  occasion 
that  he  fought  his  famous  single-handed  fight  against 
overwhelming  odds,  in  the  sight  of  both  armies  under  the 
walls  of  Kadesh.  Three  years  later  he  carried  fire  and 
sword  into  the  land  of  Canaan,  and  in  his  eleventh  year, 
according  to  inscriptions  yet  extant  upon  the  ruined 
pylons  of  the  Ramesseum  at  Thebes,  he  took,  among  other 
strong  places  on  sea  and  shore,  the  fortresses  of  Ascalon 
and  Jerusalem. 

The  next  important  record  transports  us  to  the  twenty- 
first  year  of  his  reign.  Ten  years  have  now  gone  by  since 
the  fall  of  Jerusalem,  during  which  time  a  fluctuating 
frontier  warfare  has  probably  been  carried  on,  to  the 
exhaustion  of  both  armies.  Khetasira,  Prince  of  Kheta,f 
sues  for  peace.  An  elaborate  treaty  is  thereupon  framed, 
whereby  the  said  prince  and  "  Rameses,  chief  of  rulers, 

*  See  chap,  viii,  p.  125. 

f  i.  e.  Prince  of  the  Hittites;  the  Kheta  heiiig  now  identified  with 
that  people. 


240  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

who  fixes  his  frontiers  where  he  pleases,"  pledge  them- 
selves to  a  strict  offensive  and  defensive  alliance,  and  to 
the  maintenance  of  good-will  and  brotherhood  forever. 
This  treaty,  we  are  told,  was  engraved  for  the  Khetan. 
prince  "  upon  a  tablet  of  silver  adorned  with  the  likeness 
of  the  figure  of  Sutekh,  the  great  ruler  of  Heaven";  while 
for  Rameses  Mer-Amen  it  was  graven  on  a  wall  adjoining 
the  great  hall  at  Karnak,*  where  it  remains  to  this  day. 

According  to  the  last  clause  of  this  curious  document, 
the  contracting  parties  enter  also  into  an  agreement  to 
deliver  up  to  each  other  the  political  fugitives  of  both 
countries  ;  providing  at  the  same  time  for  the  personal 
safety  of  the  offenders.  "  Whosoever  shall  be  so  delivered 
up,"  says  the  treaty,  "  himself,  his  wives,  his  children, 
let  him  not  be  smitten  to  death  ;  moreover,  let  him  not 
suffer  in  his  eyes,  in  his  mouth,  in  his  feet;  moreover,  let 
not  any  crime  be  set  up  against  him."f  This  is  the 
earliest  instance  of  an  extradition  treaty  upon  record  ;  and 
it  is  chiefly  remarkable  as  an  illustration  of  the  clemency 
with  which  international  law  was  at  that  time  administered. 

Finally  the  convention  between  the  sovereigns  is  placed 
under  the  joint  protection  of  the  gods  of  both  countries: 
"  Sutekh  of  Kheta,  Amen  of  Egypt  and  all  the  thousand 
gods;  the  gods,  male  and  female;  the  gods  of  the  hills,  of 
the  rivers,  of  the  great  sea,  of  the  winds  and  the  clouds, 
of  the  land  of  Kheta  and  of  the  land  of  Egypt." 

The  peace  now  concluded  would  seem  to  have  remained 
unbroken  throughout  the  rest  of  the  long  reign  of  Rameses 
II.  We  hear,  at  all  events,  of  no  more  wars;  and  we  find 
the  king  married  presently  to  a  Khetan  princess,  who,  in 
deference  to  the   gods   of  her  adopted   country,  takes   the 

*  This  invaluable  record  is  sculptured  on  a  piece  of  wall  built  out, 
apparently,  for  tbe  purpose,  at  right  angles  to  tbe  south  wall  of  the 
Hypostyle  Hall  at  Karnak.  The  treaty  faces  to  the  west,  and  is 
situated  about  half-way  between  the  famous  bas-relief  of  Sheshonk 
and  his  captives  and  the  Karnak  version  of  the  poem  of  Pentaur. 
The  former  lies  to  the  west  of  the  southern  portal;  the  latter  to  the 
east.  The  wall  of  the  treaty  juts  out  about  sixty  feet  to  the  east 
of  the  portal.  This  south  wall  and  its  adjunct,  a  length  of  about 
two  hundred  feet  in  all,  is  perhaps  the  most  precious  and  interesting 
piece  of  sculptured  surface  in  the  world. 

f  See  "Treaty  of  Peace  Between  Rameses  II  and  the  Hittites," 
translated  by  C.  W.  Goodwin,  M.  A.  "  Records  of  the  Past,"  vol.  iv, 
p.  25. 


RAMESB8  THE  GREAT.  241 

official  name  of  Ma-at-iri-neferu-Ra,  or  "  Contemplating 
the  beauties  of  Ra."  The  names  of  two  other  queens — 
Nefer-t-ari  and  Ast-nefert — are  also  found  upon  the  monu- 
ments. 

These  three  were  probably  the  only  legitimate  wives  of 
Rameses  II,  though  lie  must  also  have  been  the  lord  of  an 
extensive  hareem.  His  family,  at  all  events,  as  recorded 
upon  the  walls  of  the  Temple  at  Wady  Sabooah,  amounted 
to  no  less  than  one  hundred  and  seventy  children,  of 
whom  one  hundred  and  eleven  were  princes.  This  may 
have  been  a  small  family  for  a  great  king  three  thousand 
years  ago.  It  was  but  the  other  day,  comparatively  speak- 
ing, that  Lepsius  saw  and  talked  with  old  Hasan,  Kashef 
of  Derr — the  same  petty  ruler  who  gave  so  much  trouble  to 
Belzoni,  Burckhardt,  and  other  early  travelers — and  he, 
like  a  patriarch  of  old,  had  in  his  day  been  the  husband  of 
sixty-four  wives  and  the  father  of  something  like  two 
hundred  children. 

For  forty-six  years  after  the  making  of  the  Khetan 
treaty,  Rameses  the  Great  lived  at  peace  with  his  neigh- 
bors and  tributaries.  The  evening  of  his  life  was  long  and 
splendid.  It  became  his  passion  and  his  pride  to  found 
new  cities,  to  raise  dikes,  to  dig  canals,  to  build  fortresses, 
to  multiply  statues,  obelisks,  and  inscriptions,  and  to 
erect  the  most  gorgeous  and  costly  temples  in  which  man 
ever  worshiped.  To  the  monuments  founded  by  his  pre- 
decessors he  made  additions  so  magnificent  that  they 
dwarfed  the  designs  they  were  intended  to  complete.  He 
caused  artesian  wells  to  be  pierced  in  the  stony  bed  of  the 
desert.  He  carried  on  the  canal  begun  by  his  father  and 
opened  a  water-way  between  the  Mediterranean  and  the 
Red  Sea.*     No  enterprise  was  too  difficult,  no  project  too 

*  Since  tliis  book  was  written,  a  f  urther  study  of  the  subject  lias 
led  me  to  conjecture  that  not  Seti  I,  but  Queen  Hatsbepsu  (Hatasu) 
of  the  eighteenth  dynasty,  was  the  actual  originator  of  the  canal 
which  connected  the  Nile  with  the  Red  Sea.  The  inscriptions 
engraved  upon  the  walls  of  her  great  temple  at  Dayr-el-Bahari 
expressly  state  that  her  squadron  sailed  from  Thebes  to  the  land  of 
Punt  and  returned  from  Punt  to  Thebes,  laden  with  the  products  of 
that  mysterious  country  which  Mariette  and  Maspero  have  con- 
clusively shown  to  have  been  situated  on  the  Somali  coast-line 
between  Bab-el-Mandeb  and  Cape  Guardafui.  Unless,  therefore, 
some  water-way  existed  at  that  time  between  the  Nile  and  the  Eed 
Sea,  it  follows  that  Queen  Hatshepsu's  squadron  of  discovery  must 
have  sailed  northward  from  Thebes,  descended  the  Nile  to  one  of  Us, 


242  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

vast,  for  his  ambition.  "As  a  child/'  says  the  stela  of 
Dakkeh,  "  he  superintended  the  public  works  and  his 
hands  laid  their  foundations.'''  As  a  man,  he  became  the 
supreme  builder.  Of  his  gigantic  structures,  only  certain 
colossal  fragments  have  survived  the  ravages  of  time;  yet 
those  fragments  are  the  wonder  of  the  world. 

To  estimate  the  cost  at  which  these  things  were  done  is 
now  impossible.  Every  temple,  every  palace,  represented  a 
hecatomb  of  human  lives.  Slaves  from  Ethiopia,  cap- 
tives taken  in  war,  Syrian  immigrants  settled  in  the  delta, 
were  alike  pressed  into  the  service  of  the  state.  We  know 
how  the  Hebrews  suffered,  and  to  what  extremity  of 
despair  they  were  reduced  by  the  tasks  imposed  upon 
them.  Yet  even  the  Hebrews  were  less  cruelly  used  than 
some  who  were  kidnaped  beyond  the  frontiers.  Torn 
from  their  homes,  without  hope  of  return,  driven  in  herds 
to  the  mines,  the  quarries,  and  the  brick-fields,  these  hap- 
less victims  were  so  dealt  with  that  not  even  the  chances 
of  desertion  were  open  to  them.  The  negroes  from  the 
south  were  systematically  drafted  to  the  north;  the  Asiatic 
captives  were  transported  to  Ethiopia.     Those  who  labored 

mouths,  traversed  the  whole  length  of  the  Mediterranean  sea,  gone 
out  through  the  pillars  of  Hercules,  doubled  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope, 
and  arrived  at  the  Somali  coast  by  way  of  the  Mozambique  Channel 
and  the  shores  of  Zanzibar.  In  other  words,  the  Egyptian  galleys 
would  twice  have  made  the  almost  complete  circuit  of  the  African 
continent.  This  is  obviously  an  untenable  hypothesis  ;  and  there 
remains  no  alternative  route  except  that  of  a  canal,  or  chain  of 
canals,  connecting  the  Nile  with  the  Red  Sea.  The  old  Wady 
Tumilat  canal  has  hitherto  been  universally  ascribed  to  Seti  I,  for  no 
other  reason  than  that  a  canal  leading  from  the  Nile  to  the  ocean  is 
represented  on  a  bas-relief  of  his  reign  on  the  north  outer  wall  of  the 
great  temple  of  Karnak  ;  but  this  canal  may  undoubtedly  have  been 
made  under  the  preceding  dynasty,  and  it  is  not  only  probable,  but 
most  likely,  that  the  great  woman-Pbaraoh,  who  first  conceived  the 
notion  of  venturing  her  ships  upon  an  unknown  sea,  may  also  have 
organized  the  channel  of  communication  by  which  those  ships  went 
forth.  According  to  the  second  edition  of  Sir  J.  W.  Dawson's 
"Egypt  and  Syria,"  the  recent  surveys  conducted  by  Lieut. -Col. 
A.rdagh,  Maj.  Spaight  and  Lieut.  Burton,  all  of  the  royal  engineers, 
'  render  it  certain  that  this  valley  [i.  e.  the  Wady  Tumilat]  once 
carried  a  branch  up  the  Nile  which  discharged  its  waters  into  the  Red 
Sea"  (see  chap.  iii.  p.  55) ;  and  in  such  case,  if  that  branch  were  not 
already  navigable,  Queen  Hatshepsu  would  only  have  needed  to 
canalize  it,  which  is  what  she  probably  did.  [Note  to  second 
edition.] 


R AMESES  THE  GREAT.  243 

underground  were  goaded  on  without  rest  or  respite,  till 
they  fell  down  in  the  mines  and  died. 

That  Rameses  II  was  the  Pharaoh  of  the  captivity,*  and 
that  Meneptah,  his  son  and  successor,  was  the  Pharaoh  of 
the  exodus,*  are  now  among  the  accepted  presumptions 
of  Egyptological  science.  The  Bible  and  the  monuments 
confirm  each  other  upon  these  points,  while  both  are  again 
corroborated  by  the  results  of  recent  geographical  and 
philological  research.  The  "  treasure-cities  Pithom  and 
Raamses"  which  the  Israelites  built  for  Pharaoh  with 
bricks  of  their  own  making,  are  the  Pa-Tum  and  Pa- 
Rameses,  of  the  inscriptions,  and  both  have  recently  been 
identified  by  M.  Naville,  in  the  course  of  his  excavations 
conducted  in  1883  and  1886  for  the  Egypt  Exploration 
Fund. 

The  discovery  of  Pithom,  the  ancient  biblical  "  treasure- 

*  "  Les  circonstances  de  l'histoire  hebra'ique  s'appliquent  ici  d'une 
rnaniere  on  ne  pent  plus  satisfaisante.  Les  Hebreux  opprimes  batis- 
saient  une  ville  da  nom  de  Ramses.  Ce  recit  ne  peut  done  s'appliquer 
qu'a  l'epoque  ou  la  famille  de  Ramses  etait  sur  le  trdne.  Mo'ise,  con- 
traint  de  fuir  la  colere  du  roi.s  apres  le  meurtre  d'un  Egyptien,  subit 
un  long  exil,  parceque  le  roi  ne  mourut  qu'apres  un  temps  fort  long; 
Ramses  II  regna  en  effet  plus  de  67  ans.  Aussitot  apres  le  retour  de 
Mo'ise  cornmenca  la  lutte  qui  se  termina  par  le  celebre  passage  de  la 
Mer  Rouge.  Cet  eveneinent  eut  done  lieu  sous  le  fils  de  Ramses  II, 
ou  tout  au  plus  tard  pendant  l'epoque  de  troubles  quit  suivit  son 
regne.  Ajoutons  que  la  rapidite  des  derniers  eveneruents  ne  permet 
pas  de  supposer  que  le  roi  eut  sa  residence  a  Thebes  dans  cet  instant. 
Or,  Merenptah  a  precisement  laiss<'  dans  la  Basse-Egypte,  et  speciale- 
ment  a,  Tanis,  des  preuves  importantes  de  son  sejour." — De  Rouge, 
"  Notice  des  Monuments  Egyptiennes  du  Rez  de  Chaussee  du  Musee 
du  Louvre,"  Paris,  1857,  p.  22. 

"II  est  impossible  d'attribuer  ni  a  Meneptah  I,  ni  a  Seti  II,  ni  a 
Siptah,  ni  a  Amonmeses,  un  regne  meme  de  vingt  annees;  a  plus 
forte  raison  de  cinquante  ou  soixante  Seal  le  regne  de  Ramses  II  rem- 
plit  les  conditions  indispensables.  Lors  meme  que  nous  ne  saurions 
pas  que  ce  souverain  a  occupe  les  Hebreux  a  la  construction  de  la  ville 
de  Ramses,  nous  serions  dans  1'impossibilite  de  placer  Mo'ise  a  une 
autre  epoque,  a  moins  de  faire  table  rase  des  renseignements  bib- 
liques." — "  Recherches  pour  servir  ti  l'Histoire  de  la  XIX  dynastie:" 
F.  Chabas,  Paris,  1873,  p.  148. 

f  The  Bible  narrative,  it  has  often  deen  observed,  invariably  desig- 
nates the  king  by  this  title,  than  which  none,  unfortunately,  can  be 
more  vague  for  purposes  of  identification.  "Plus  generalement," 
says  Brugsch,  writing  of  the  royal  titles,  "  sa  personne  se  cache  sous 
une  serie  d'expressions  qui  toutes  ont  le  sens  de  la  'grande  maison  ' 
ou  du  'grand  palais,'  quelquefois  au  duel,  des  \i>  uxgrandes  maisons,' 
par  rapport  a  la  division  de  l'Egypte  en  deux  parties.     C'est  du  title 


244  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

city"  of  the  first  chapter  of  Exodus,  has  probably  attracted 
more  public  attention  and  been  more  widely  discussed  by 
European  savants  than  any  archaeological  event  since  the 
discovery  of  Nineveh.  It  was  in  February,  1883,  that  M. 
Naville  opened  the  well-known  mound  of  Tel-el-Mask- 
hutah,  on  the  south  bank  of  the  new  sweet-water  canal  in 
the  "Wady  Tumilat,  and  there  discovered  the  founda- 
tions and  other  remains  of  a  fortified  city  of  the  kind 
known  in  Egyptian  as  a  bekhen,  or  store-fort.  This 
bekhcn,  which  was  surrounded  by  a  wall  thirty  feet  in 
thickness,  proved  to  be  about  twelve  acres  in  extent.  In 
one  corner  of  the  inclosure  were  found  the  ruins  of  a  temple 
built  by  Barneses  II.  The  rest  of  the  area  consisted  of  a 
labyrinth  of  subterraneous  rectangular  cellars,  or  store- 
chambers,  constructed  of  sun-dried  bricks  of  large  size  and 
divided  by  walls  varying  from  eight  to  ten  feet  in  thickness. 
In  the  ruins  of  the  temple  were  discovered  several  statues 
more  or  less  broken,  a  colossal  hawk  inscribed  with  the 
royal  ovals  of  Rameses  II,  and  other  works  of  art  dating 
from  the  reigns  of  Osorkon  II,  Nectanebo  and  Ptolemy 
Philadelphus.  The  hieroglyphic  legends  engraved  upon 
the  statues  established  the  true  value  of  the  discovery  by 
giving  both  the  name  of  the  city  and  the  name  of  the  dis- 
trict in  which  the  city  was  situated;  the  first  being  Pa-Tum 
(Pithom),  the  "Abode  of  Turn,"  and  the  second  being 
Thuku-t  (Succoth)  ;  so  identifying  "Pa-Turn,  in  the  dis- 
trict of  Thuku-t,"  with  Pithom,  the  treasure-city  built  by 
the  forced  labor  of  the  Hebrews  and  Succoth,  the  region 
in  which  they  made  their  first  halt  on  going  forth  from  the 
land  of  bondage.  Even  the  bricks  with  which  the  great 
wall  and  the  walls   of   the  store-chambers   are  built  bear 

tres  frequent  Per-aa,  '  la  grande  maison,'  'la  haute  porte,'  qu'on  a 
heiireusement  derive  le  noni  biblique  Pharao  donne  aux  rois 
d'Egypte." — "  Histoire  d'Egypte,"  Brugsch,  second  edition,  Part  I,  p. 
85;  Leipzig,  1875. 

This  probably  is  the  only  title  under  which  it  was  permissible  for 
the  plebeian  class  to  speak  or  write  of  the  sovereign.  It  can  scarcely 
have  escaped  Herr  Brugsch's  notice  that  we  even  find  it  literally 
translated  in  Genesis,  1.  4,  wbere  it  is  said  that  "  when  the  days  of 
his  mourning  were  past,  Joseph  spake  unto  tin  house  of  Pharaoh, 
saying:  "If  now  I  have  found  grace  in  your  eyes,'  "  etc.  etc.  If  Moses, 
however,  had  but  once  recorded  the  cartouche  name  of  either  of  his 
three  Pharaohs,  archaeologists  and  commentators  would  have  been 
spared  a  great  deal  of  trouble. 


R AMESES  THE  GREAT.  245 

eloquent  testimony  to  the  toil  of   the  suffering  colonists 
and  confirm   in  its  minutest   details  the   record  of  their 
oppression;  some  being  duly  kneaded  with  straw;  others, 
when  the  straw  was  no  longer  forthcoming,  being  mixed 
with  the  leafage  of  a  reed  common  to  the  marsh  lands  of 
the  delta;  and  the  remainder,  when  even  this  substitute 
ran  short,  being  literally  "'bricks  without  straw,"  molded 
of  mere  clay  crudely  dried  in  the  sun.     The  researches  of 
M.   Naville   further   showed   that   the    temple    to    Turn, 
founded  by  Raineses  II,  was  restored,  or  rebuilt,  by  Osor- 
kon  II,  of   the   twenty-second  dynasty  ;    while   at  a  still 
higher   level   were   discovered    the   remains   of   a  Roman 
fortress.     That  Pithom  was  still  an  important  place  in  the 
time  of  the  Ptolemies  is  proved  by  a  large  and  historically  im- 
portant tablet  found  by  M.  Naville  in  one  of  the  store-cham- 
bers, where  it  had  been  thrown  in  with  other  sculptures  and 
rubbish  of  various  kinds.    This  tablet  records  repairs  done  to 
the  canal,  an  expedition  to  Ethiopia  and  the  foundation  of 
the  city  of  Arsinoe.     Not  less  important  from  a  geograph- 
ical point  of  view  was  the  finding  of  a  Roman  milestone 
which  identifies  Pithom  with   Hero  (Heroopolis),  where, 
according  to  the  Septuagint,  Joseph   went  forth  to  meet 
Jacob.     This  milestone  gives  nine  Roman  miles  as  the  dis- 
tance from  Heroopolis  to  Clysma.     A  very  curious  manu- 
script lately  discovered  by  Sig.  Gamurrini  in  the  library 
of  Arezzo,  shows  that  even  so  late  as  the  fourth  century  of 
the  Christian  era  this  ancient  walled  inclosure — the  camp, 
or  "Ero  Castra,"  of  the  Roman  period,  the  "  Pithom"  of 
the   Bible  —  was  still   known    to   pious  pilgrims  as   "the 
Pithom  built  by  the  children  of  Israel ;"  that  the  adjoin- 
ing town,  external  to  the  camp,  at  that  time  established 
within  the  old  Pithom  boundaries,  was  known  as  "Heroo- 
polis ;"  and  that  the  town  of  Raineses  was  distant  from 
Pithom  about  twenty  Roman  miles.* 

*This  remarkable  manuscript  relates  the  journey  made  by  a  female 
pilgrim  of  French  birth,  circa  a.  d.  370,  to  Egypt,  Mesopotamia  and 
the  holy  land.  The  manuscript  is  copied  from  an  older  original  and 
dates  from  the  tenth  or  eleventh  century.  Much  of  the  work  is  lost, 
but  those  parts  are  yet  perfect  which  describe  the  pilgrim's  progress 
through  Goshen  to  Tanis  and  thence  to  Jerusalem,  Edessa  and  the 
Haran.  Of  Pithom  it  is  said:  "  Pithona  etiam  ci vitas  quarn  cediflca- 
verunt  filii  Israel  ostensa  est  nubis  in  ipso  itinere  ;  in  eo  tamen  loco 
ubi  jam  fines  Egypti  intravimus,  religentes  jam  terras  Saracenorum. 
Nam  et  ipsud  nunc  Pithona  castrum  est,     Heroun  autero  civitas  quae 


246  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

As  regards  Pa-Rameses,  the  other  "treasure-city"  of 
Exodus,  it  is  coujectu rally,  but  not  positively,  identified 
by  M.  Naville  with  the  mound  of  Saft-el-Henneh,  the 
scene  of  his  explorations  in  1886.  That  Saft-el-IIenneh 
was  identical  with  "  Kes,"  or  Goshen,  the  capital  town  of 
the  "  Land  of  Goshen,"  has  been  unequivocally  demon- 
strated by  the  discoverer  ;  and  that  it  was  also  known  in 
the  time  of  Rameses  II  as  "Pa-Rameses"  is  shown  to  be 
highly  probable.*  There  are  remains  of  a  temple  built  of 
black  basalt,  with  pillars,  fragments  of  statues  and  the  like, 
all  inscribed  with  the  cartouches  of  Rameses  II ;  and  the 
distance  from  Pithom  is  just  twenty  Roman  miles. 

It  was  from  Pa-Rameses  that  Rameses  II  set  out  with  his 
army  to  attack  the  confederate  princes  of  Asia  Minor  then 
lying  in  ambush  near  Kadesh  ;  f  and  it  was  hither  that 
he  returned  in  triumph  after  the  great  victory.  A  con- 
temporary letter  written  by  one  Panbesa,  a  scribe,  narrates 
in  glowing  terms  the  beauty  and  abundance  of  the  royal 
city,  and  tells  how  the  damsels  stood  at  their  doors  in  holi- 
day apparel,  with  nosegays  in  their  hands  and  sweet  oil 
upon  their  locks,  "  on  the  day  of  the  arrival  of  the  war- 
god  of  the  world."     This  letter  is  in  the  British  Museum.  J 

Other  letters  written  during  the  reign  of  Rameses  II 
have  by  some  been  supposed  to  make  direct  mention  of 
the  Israelites. 

"I  have  obeyed  the  orders  of  my  master,"  writes  the 
scribe  Kauiser  to  his  superior  Bak-en-Ptah,  "being  bidden 

fuit  illo  teinpere,  id  est  ubi  occurit  Joseph  patri  suo  venienti,  sicut 
scriptum  est  in  libro  Genesis  nunc  est  conies  sed  grandis  quod  nos 
dicinius  vicus  .  .  .  nam  ipse  vicus  nunc  appellator  Hero."  See 
a  letter  on  "  Pithom- Heroopolis  "  communicated  to  "  The  Academy  " 
by  M.  Naville,  March  22,  1884.  See  also  M.  Naville's  memoir, 
entitled  '-The  Store-City  of  Pithom  and  the  Route  of  the  Exodus" 
(third  edition) ;  published  by  order  of  the  committee  of  the  Egypt 
Exploration  Fund,  1888. 

*See  M.  Naville's  memoir,  entitled  "Goshen  and  the  Shrine  of 
Saft-el-Henneh,"  published  by  order  of  the  committee  of  the  Egypt 
Exploration  Fund,  1887. 

f  Kadesh,  otherwise  Katesh  or  Kades.  A  town  on  the  Orontes. 
See  a  paper  entitled  "  The  Campaign  of  Ramesis  II  in  His  Fifth  Year 
Against  Kadesh  on  the  Orontes,"  by  the  Rev.  G.  H.  Tomkins,  in  the 
"Proceedings  of  the  Society  of  Biblical  Archaeology,"  1881,  1882; 
also  in  the  "  Transactions"  of  the  society,  vol.  viii. 

%  Anastasi  Papyri,  No.  Ill,  Brit.  Mus. 


RAMESES  THE  GREAT.  247 

to  serve  out  the  rations  to  the  soldiers,  and  also  to  the 
Aperiu  [Hebrews?],  who  quarry  stone  for  the  palace  of 
King  Rameses  Mer-Amen."  A  si  miliar  document  written 
by  a  scribe  named  Keniamon  and  couched  in  almost  the 
same  words  shows  these  Aperiu  on  another  occasion  to 
have  been  quarrying  for  a  building  on  the  southern  side  of 
Memphis;  in  which  case  Turra  would  be  the  scene  of  their 
labors. 

These  invaluable  letters,  written  on  papyrus  in  the  hie- 
ratic character,  are  in  good  preservation.  They  were 
found  in  the  ruins  of  Memphis  and  now  form  part  of  the 
treasures  of  the  Museum  of  Leyden.*  They  bring  home 
to  us  with  startling  nearness  the  events  and  actors  of  the 
Bible  narrative.  We  see  the  toilers  at  their  task  and  the 
overseers  reporting  them  to  the  directors  of  public  works. 
They  extract  from  the  quarry  those  huge  blocks  which  are 
our  wonder  to  this  day.  Harnessed  to  rude  sledges,  they 
drag  them  to  the  river  side  and  embark  them  for  transport 

*See  "Melanges  Egyptologiques,"  by  F.  Chabas,  1  Serie,  1862. 
There  has  been  much  discussion  among  Egyptologists  on  the  subject 
of  M.  Chabas'  identification  of  the  Hebrews.  The  name  by  which 
they  are  mentioned  in  the  papyri  here  quoted,  as  well  as  in  an  inscrip- 
tion in  the  quarries  of  Hamamat,  is  Aperi-u.  A  learned  critic  in  the 
"Revue  Areheologique"  (vol.  v,  2d  series.  1862)  writes  as  follows  : 
'•'  La  decouverte  du  nom  des  Hebreux  dans  les  hieroglyphes  serait  un 
fait  de  la  derniere  importance;  mais  comine  aucun  autre  point  histo- 
rique  n'offre  peut-etre  une  pareille  seduction,  il  faut  aussi  se  metier 
des  illusions  avec  un  soin  meticuleux.  La  confusion  des  sons  R  et 
L  dans  la  langue  Egyptienne,  et  le  voisinage  des  articulations  B  et  P 
nuisent  un  peu,  dans  le  cas  particular,  a  la  rigueur  des  conclusions 
quon  peut  tirer  de  la  transcription.  Neanmoins,  il  y  a  lieu  de  prendre 
en  consideration  ce  fait  que  les  Aperiu.  dans  les  trois  documents  qui 
nous  parlent  d'eux,  sont  niontres  employes  a  des  travaux  de  meme 
espece  que  ceux  auxquels,  selon  l'Ecriture,  les  Hebreux  furent  assu- 
jettis  par  les  Egyptiens.  La  circonstance  que  les  papyrus  mention- 
nant  ce  nom  ont  ete  trouves  a  Memphis,  plaide  encore  en  faveur  de 
l'assimilation  proposee — decouverte  importante  qu'il  est  a  desirer  de 
voir  confirmee  dar  d'autres  monuments."  It  should  be  added  that 
the  Aperiu  also  appear  in  the  inscription  of  Thothmes  III  at  Karnak 
and  were  supposed  by  Mariette  to  be  the  people  of  Ephon.  It  is, 
however,  to  be  noted"  that  the  inscriptions  mention  two  tribes  of 
Aperiu — a  greater  and  a  lesser,  or  an  upper  and  a  lower  tribe.  This 
might  perhaps  consist  with  the  establishment  of  Hebrew  settlers  in 
the  delta  and  others  in  the  neighborhood  of  Memphis.  The  Aperiu, 
according  to  other  inscriptions,  appear  to  have  been  horsemen,  or 
horse-trainers,  which  certainly  tells  against  the  probability  of  their 
identity  with  the  Hebrews. 


248  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

to  the  opposite  bank.*  Some  are  so  large  and  so  heavy 
that  it  takes  a  month  to  get  them  clown  from  the  mountain 
to  the  landing-place. f  Other  laborers  are  elsewhere  making 
bricks,  digging  canals,  helping  to  build  the  great  wall 
which  reached  from  Pelusium  to  Heliopolis,  and  strengthen- 
ing the  defenses  not  only  of  Pithom  and  Eameses  but  of 
all  the  cities  and  forts  between  the  lied  Sea  and  the  Medi- 
terranean. Their  lot  is  hard;  but  not  harder  than  the  lot 
of  other  workmen.  They  are  well  fed.  They  intermarry. 
They  increase  and  multiply.  The  season  of  their  great 
oppression  is  not  yet  come.  They  make  bricks,  it  is  true, 
and  those  who  are  so  employed  must  supply  a  certain  num- 
ber daily;J  but  the  straw  is'not  yet  withheld,  and  the  task, 
though  perhaps  excessive,  is  not  impossible.  For  we  are 
here  on  the  reign  of  Barneses  II,  and  the  time  when 
Meneptah  shall  succeed  him  is  yet  far  distant.  It  is  not 
till  the  king  dies  that  the  children  of  Israel  sigh,  "by 
reason  of  the  bondage." 

There  are  in  the  British  Museum,  the  Louvre,  and  the 
Bibliotheque  Natiomde.  some  much  older  papyri  than 
these  two  letters  of  the  Leyden  collection — some  as  old, 
indeed,  as  the  time  of  Joseph,  but  none,  perhaps,  of  such 
peculiar  interest,  In  these,  the  scribes  Kauiser  and  Keni- 
amon  seem  still  to  live  and  speak.  What  would  we  not 
give  for  a  few  more  of  their  letters!  These  men  knew 
Memphis  in  its  glory  and  had  looked  upon  the  face  of 
Eameses  the  Great.  They  might  even  have  seen  Moses  in 
his  youth  while  yet  he  lived  under  the  protection  of  his 
adopted  mother,  a  prince  among  princes.  Kauiser  and 
Keniamon  lived,  and  died,  and  were  mummied  between 
three  and  four  thousand  years  ago;  yet  these  frail  frag- 
ments of  papyrus  have  survived  the  wreck  of  ages,  and 

*  See  the  famous  wall-painting  of  the  Colossus  on  the  Sledge 
engraved  in  Sir  (J.  Wilkinson's  "Ancient  Egyptians;"  frontispiece 
to  vol.  ii,  ed.  1871. 

f  In  a  letter  written  by  a  priest  who  lived  during  this  reign  (Rame- 
ses  II),  we  find  an  interesting  account  of  the  disadvantages  and  hard- 
ships attending  various  trades  and  pursuits,  as  opposed  to  the  ease 
and  dignity  of  the  sacerdotal  office.  Of  the  mason  he  says  :  "It  is 
the  climax  of  his  misery  to  have  to  remove  a  block  of  ten  cubits  bv 
six,  a  block  which  it  takes  a  month  to  drag  bv  the  private  ways 
among  the  houses." — Sallier  Pap.  No.  II,  Brit.  Musa?. 

X  "  Ye  shall  no  more  give  the  people  straw  to  make  brick,  as  here- 
tofore ;  let  them  go  and  gather  straw  for  themselves." 

' '  And  the  tale  of  the  bricks,  which  they  did  make  heretofore,  ye 


RAM  USES  THE  ORE  AT.  249 

the  quaint  writing  with  which  they  are  covered  is  as  intel- 
ligible to  ourselves  as  to  the  functionaries  to  whom  it  was 
addressed.  The  Egyptians  were  eminently  business-like, 
and  kept  accurate  entries  of  the  keep  and  labor  of  their 
workmen  and  captives.  From  the  earliest  epoch  of  which 
the  monuments  furnish  record,  we  find  an  elaborate 
bureaucratic  system  in  full  operation  throughout  the 
country.  Even  in  the  time  of  the  pyramid-builders,  there 
are  ministers  of  public  works;  inspectors  of  lands,  lakes, 
and  quarries;  secretaries,  clerks,  and  overseers  innumer- 
able.* From  all  these,  we  may  be  sure,  were  required 
strict  aceounts  of  their  expenditure,  as  well  as  reports  of 
the  work  done  under  their  supervision.  Specimens  of 
Egyptian  book-keeping  are  by  no  means  rare.  The  Louvre 
is  rich  in  memoranda  of  the  kind;  some  relating  to  the 
date-tax;  others  to  the  transport  and  taxation  of  corn,  the 

shall  lay  upon  them  ;  ye  shall  not  diminish  ought  thereof. — Ex- 
odus, chap,  v,  7,  8. 

M.  Chabas  says:  "Cese  details  sont  completement  conformes  aux 
habitudes  Egyptiennes.  Le  melange  de  paille  et  d'argile  dans  les 
briques  antiques  a  ete  parfaitement  reconnu.  D'un  autre  cote,  le 
travail  a  la  tache  est  mentionne  dans  un  texte  ecrit  au  revers  d'un 
papyrus  celebrant  la  splendeur  de  la  ville  de  Ramses,  et  datant,  selon 
toute  vraisemblance,  du  regne  de  Meneptah  I.  En  voici  la  tran- 
scription: '  Compte  des  macons,  12;  en  outre  des  homines  a  mouler 
la  brique  dans  leurs  villes,  amenes  aux  travaux  de  la  maison.  Eux  a 
faire  leur  nombre  de  briques  journellesment;  non  ils  sont  a  se  re- 
lacher  des  travaux  dans  la  maison  neuve;  c'est  ainsi  que  j'ai  obei 
au  mandat  donne  par  mon  maitre.'"  See  "  Recherches  pour  servir 
a  l'Histoire  de  la  XIX  Dynastie,"  par  F.  Chabas.  Paris  :  1873, 
p.  149. 

The  curious  text  thus  translated  into  French  by  M.  Chabas  is 
written  on  the  back  of  the  papyrus  already  quoted  (i.  e.  Letter  of 
Panbesa,  Anastasi  Papyri,  No.  Ill),  and  is  preserved  in  the  British 
Museum.  The  wall-painting  in  a  tomb  of  the  eighteenth  dynasty  at 
Thebes,  which  represents  foreign  captives  mixing  clay,  molding, 
drying,  and  placing  bricks,  is  well  known  from  the  illustration  in 
Sir  G.  Wilkinson's  "Ancient  Egyptians,"  ed.  of  1871,  vol.  ii,  p.  196. 
Cases  sixty-one  and  sixty-two  in  the  first  Egyptian  room,  British 
Museum,  contain  bricks  of  mixed  clay  and  straw  stamped  with  the 
name  of  Barneses  II. 

*  "  Les  affaires  de  la  cour  et  de  l'administration  du  pays  sont  ex- 
pedites par  les  '  chefs '  ou  les  '  intendants,'  par  les  '  secretaires '  et  par 
la  nombreuse  classe  des  scribes.  .  .  .  Le  tresor  rempli  d'or  et 
d'argent,  et  le  divan  des  depenses  et  des  recettes  avaient  leurs  in- 


250  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

payment  of  wages,  the  sale  and  purchase  of  land  for  burial, 
and  the  like.  If  any  definite  and  quite  unmistakable  news 
of  the  Hebrews  should  ever  reach  us  from  Egyptian 
sources  it  will  almost  certainly  be  through  the  medium  of 
documents  such  as  these. 

An  unusually  long  reign,  the  last  forty-six  years  of 
which  would  seem  to  have  been  spent  in  peace  and  out- 
ward prosperity,  enabled  Rameses  II  to  indulge  his  ruling 
passion  without  interruption.  To  draw  up  anything  like 
an  exhaustive  catalogue  of  his  known  architectural  works 
would  be  equivalent  to  writing  an  itinerary  of  Egypt  and 
Ethiopia  under  the  nineteenth  dynasty.  His  designs  were 
as  vast  as  his  means  appear  to  have  been  unlimited.  From 
the  delta  to  Gebel  Barkal,  he  rilled  the  land  with  monu- 
ments dedicated  to  his  own  glory  and  the  worship  of  the 
gods.  Upon  Thebes,  Abydos,  and  Tanis  be  lavished 
structures  of  surpassing  magnificence.  In  Nubia,  at  the 
places  now  known  as  Gerf  llossayn,  Wady  Sabooyah,  Derr, 
and  Abou  Simbel,  he  was  the  author  of  temples  and  the 
founder  of  cities.  These  cities,  which  would  probably  be 
better  described  as  provincial  towns,  have  disappeared;  and 
but  for  the  mention  of  them  in  various  inscriptions  we 
should  not  even  know  that  they  had  existed.  Who  shall 
say  how  many  more  have  vanished,  leaving  neither  trace 
nor  record?  A  dozen  cities  of  Eameses*  may  yet  lie  buried 
under  some  of  these  nameless  mounds  which  follow  each 
other  in  such  quick  succession  along  the  banks  of  the  Nile 
in  Middle  and  Lower  Egypt.  Only  yesterday,  as  it  were, 
the  remains  of  what  would  seem  to  have  been  a  magnificent 
structure  decorated  in  a  style  absolutely  unique,  were  acci- 

tendants  a  eux.  La  chambre  des  cornptes  ne  manque  pas.  Les 
domaines,  les  proprieties,  les  palais,  et  merae  les  lacs  du  roi  sont  rnis 
sous  la  garde  d'inspecteurs.  Les  architectes  du  Pharaon  s'occupent 
de  batisses  d'apres  l'ordre  du  Pbaraon.  Les  carrieres,  a  partir  de 
celles  du  Mokattam  (le  Toora  de  nos  jours)  jusqu'a  celles  d'Assouan, 
se  trouvent  exploitees  par  des  chefs  qui  surveillent  le  transport  des 
pierres  tailles  a  la  place  de  deur  destination.  Finalement  la  corvee 
est  dirigee  par  les  cbefs  des  travaux  publics." — "  Histoire  d'Bgypte," 
Brugsch;  second  edition,  1875;  chap,  v,  pp.  34  and  35. 

*  The  Pa-Rarneses  of  the  Bible  narrative  was  not  the  only  Egyp- 
tian city  of  that  name.  There  was  a  Pa-Rameses  near  Memphis, 
and  another  Pa-Remeses  at  Abou  Simbel;  and  there  may  probably 
have  been  many  more. 


RAMESES  THE  GREAT.  251 

dentally  discovered  under  the  mounds  of  Tel-el- Yahoodeh,* 
about  twelve  miles  to  the  northeast  of  Cairo.  There  are 
probably  fifty  such  mounds,  none  of  which  have  been 
opened,  in  the  delta  alone;  and  it  is  no  exaggeration  to  say 
that  there  must  be  some  hundreds  between  the  Mediterra- 
nean and  the  first  cataract. 

An  inscription  found  of  late  years  at  Abydos  shows  that 
Rameses  II  reigned  over  his  great  kingdom  for  the  space  of 
sixty-seven  years.  "It  is  thou,"  says  Rameses  IV,  address- 
ing himself  to  Osiris,  "it  is  thou  who  wilt  rejoice  me  with 
such  length  of  reign  as  Rameses  II,  the  great  god,  in  his 
sixty-seven  years.  It  is  thou  who  wilt  give  me  the  long 
duration  of  this  great  reign. "\ 

If  only  we  knew  at  what  age  Rameses  II  succeeded  to 
the  throne,  we  should,  by  help  of  this  inscription,  know 
also  the  age  at  which  he  died.  No  such  record  has,  how- 
ever, transpired,  but  a  careful  comparison  of  the  length  of 
time  occupied  by  the  various  events  of  his  reign,  and  above 
all  the  evidence  of  age  afforded  by  the  mummy  of  this 
great  Pharaoh,  discovered  in  1886,  show  that  he  must 
have  been  very  nearly,  if  not  quite,  a  centenarian. 

*  "  The  remains  were  apparently  those  of  a  large  hall  paved  with 
white  alabaster  slabs.  The  walls  were  covered  with  a  variety  of 
bricks  and  encaustic  tiles;  many  of  the  bricks  were  of  most  beautiful 
workmanship,  the  hieroglyphs  in  some  being  inlaid  in  glass.  The 
capitals  of  the  columns  were  inlaid  with  brilliant  colored  mosaice, 
and  a  pattern  in  mosaics  ran  round  the  cornice.  Some  of  the  bricks 
are  inlaid  with  the  oval  of  Rameses  III."  See  "Murray's  Hand-book 
for  Egypt,"  route  7,  p.  217. 

Case  I),  in  the  second  Egyptian  room  at  the  British  Museum,  con- 
tains several  of  these,  tiles  and  terra-cottas,  some  of  which  are  painted 
with  figures  of  Asiatic  and  negro  captives,  birds  serpents,  etc.;  and 
are  extremely  beautiful  both  as  regards  design  and  execution. 
Marray  is  wrong,  however,  in  attibuting  the  building  to  Rameses  II. 
The  cartouches  are  those  of  Rameses  III.  The  discovery  was  made 
by  some  laborers  in  1870. 

Note  to  Second  Edition. — This  mound  was  excavated  last  year 
(1887)  by  M.  Naville,  acting  as  before  for  the  Egypt  Exploration 
Fund.  See  supplementary  sheet  to  The  Illustrated  London  News, 
17th  September,  1887,  containing  a  complete  account  of  the  excava- 
tions at  Tel-el- Yahoodeh,  etc.,  with  illustrations. 

f  This  tablet  is  votive,  and  contains  in  fact  a  long  Pharisaic  prayer 
offered  to  Osiris  by  Rameses  IV  in  the  fourth  year  of  his  reign. 
The  king  enumerates  his  own  virtues  and  deeds  of  piety,  and 
implores  the  god  to  grant  him  length  of  days.  See  "  Sur  une 
Stele  inedite  d'Abydos,"  par  P.  Pierret.  "  Revue  Archeologique, 
vol.  xix,  p.  273. 


252  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

"  Thou  madest  designs  while  yet  in  the  age  of  infancy/' 
says  the  stela  of  Dakkeh.  "  Thou  wert  a  boy  wearing  the 
sidelock,  and  no  monument  was  erected  and  no  order  was 
given  without  thee.  Thou  wert  a  youth  aged  ten  years, 
and  all  the  public  works  were  in  thy  hands,  laying  their 
foundations."  These  lines,  translated  literally,  cannot, 
however,  be  said  to  prove  much.  They  certainly  contain 
nothing  to  show  that  this  youth  of  ten  was,  at  the  time 
alluded  to,  sole  king  and  ruler  of  Egypt.  That  he 
was  titular  king,  in  the  hereditary  sense,  from  his 
birth*  and  during  the  lifetime  of  his  father,  is  now 
quite  certain.  That  he  should,  as  a  boy,  have  designed 
public  buildings  and  superintended  their  construction  is 
extremely  probable.  The  office  was  one  which  might  well 
have  been  discharged  by  a  crown  prince  who  delighted  in 
architecture  and  made  it  his  peculiar  study.  It  was,  in 
fact,  a  very  noble  office — an  office  which  from  the  earliest 
days  of  the  ancient  empire  had  constantly  been  confided 
to  princes  of  the  royal  blood  ;f  but  it  carried  with  it  no 
evidence   of   sovereignty.      The    presumption,    therefore, 

*  M.  Mariette,  in  his  great  work  on  Abydos,  lias  argued  that 
Rameses  II  was  designated  during  the  lifetime  of  his  father  by  a 
cartouche  signifying  only  Ra-  User-Ma/  and  that  he  did  not  take  the 
additional  Setp-en-Ra  till  after  the  death  of  Seti  I.  The  Louvre, 
however,  contains  a  fragment  of  bas-relief  representing  the  infant 
Rameses  with  the  full  title  of  his  later  years.  This  important  frag- 
ment is  thus  described  by  M.  Paul  Pierret:  "  Rameses  II  enfant, 
represent!  assis  sur  le  signe  des  montagnes  du:  c'est  une assimilation 
au  soleil  levant  lorsqu'il  ('merge  a  l'horizon  celeste.  II  porte  la  main 
gauche  a  sa  bouche,  en  signe  d'enfance.  La  main  droite  pend 
sur  les  genoux.  II  est  vetu  d'une  longue  robe.  La  tresse  de  l'en- 
fance  pend  sur  son  epaule.  Un  diademe  relie  ses  cheveux,  et  un 
uraeus  se  dresse  sur  son  front.  Yoici  la  traduction  de  la  courte 
legende  qui  accompagne  cette  representation.  '  Le  roi  de  la  Haute 
et  de  la  Basse  Egypte,  maitre  des  deux  pays,  Ra-  User-Ma  Setp-en-Ra, 
vivificateur,  eternel  comme  le  soleil.'" — "Catalogue  de  la  Salle 
Historique."     P.  Pierret.     Paris,  1873,  p.  8. 

M.  Maspero  is  of  opinion  that  this  one  fragment  establishes  the 
disputed  fact  of  his  actual  sovereignty  from  early  childhood,  and  so 
disposes  of  the  entire  question.  See  "  LTnscription  dedicatoire  du 
Temple  d' Abydos,  suivi  d'un  Essai  Sur  la  jeunesse  de  Sesostris." 
G.  Maspero.     4°  Paris,  1867.     See  also  chap,  viii  (foot  note),  p.  126. 

f  "  Le  metier  d'architecte  se  trouvait  confie  aux  plus  hauts  dig- 
nitaires  de  la  cour  Pharaonique.  Les  architectes  du  roi,  les  Murket, 
se  recrutaient  assezsouvent  parmi  le  nombre  des  princes." — "Histoire 
d'Egypte:"  Brugsch,  second  edition,  1875,  chap,  v,  p.  34. 


R AMESES  THE  GREAT.  253 

would  be  that  the  stela  of  Dakkeh  (dating  as  it  does  from 
the  third  year  of  the  sole  reign  of  Rameses  II)  alludes  to 
a  time  long  since  past,  when  the  king  as  a  boy  held  office 
under  his  father. 

The  same  inscription,  as  we  have  already  seen,  makes 
reference  to  the  victorious  campaign  in  the  south.  Rame- 
ses is  addressed  as  "the  bull  powerful  against  Ethiopia; 
the  griffin  furious  against  the  negroes;"  and  that  the  events 
hereby  alluded  to  must  have  taken  place  during  the  first 
three  years  of  his  sole  reign  is  proved  by  the  date  of  the 
tablet.  The  great  dedicatory  inscription' of  Abydos  shows, 
in  fact,  that'  Rameses  II  was  prosecuting  a  campaign 
in  Ethiopia  at  the  time  when  he  received  intelligence  of 
the  deatli  of  his  father  and  that  he  came  down  the  Nile, 
northward,  in  order,  probably,  to  be  crowned  at  Thebes.* 

Now  the  famous  sculptures  of  the  commemorative  chapel 
at  Bayt-el- Welly  relate  expressly  to  the  events  of  this 
expedition;  and  as  they  are  executed  in  that  refined  and 
delicate  style  which  especially  characterizes  the  bas-relief 
work  of  Gourmah,  of  Adydos,  of  all  those  buildings  which 
were  either  erected  by  Seti  I  or  begun  by  Seti  and  finished 
(luring  the  early  years  of  Rameses  II,  I  venture  to  think 
we  may  regard  them  as  contemporary,  or  very  nearly  con- 
temporary, with  the  scenes  they  represent.  In  any  case, 
it  is  reasonable  to  conclude  that  the  artists  employed  on 
the  work  would  know  something  about  the  events  and  per- 
sons delineated  and  that  they  would  be  guilty  of  no  glaring 
inaccuracies. 

All  doubt  as  to  whether  the  dates  refer  to  the  associated 
reigns  of  Seti  and  Rameses,  or  to  the  sole  reign  of  the 
latter,  vanish,  however,  when  in  these  same  sculptures  f 
we  find  the  conqueror  accompanied  by  his  son,  Prince 
Amenheikhopeshef,  who  is  of  an  age  not  only  to  bear  his 
part  in  the  field,  but  afterward  to  conduct  an  important 
ceremony  of  state  on  the  occasion  of  the  submission  and 
tribute  offering  of  the  Ethiopian  commander.  Such  is  the 
unmistakable  evidence  of  the  bas-reliefs  at  Bayt-el- Welly, 
as  those  who  cannot  go  to  Bayt-et- Welly  may  see  and  judge 
for  themselves  by  means  of  the  admirable  casts  of  these 


*  See  "  ^Inscription  dedicatoire  du  Temple  d'Abydos,"  etc.,  by  G. 
Maspero. 

f  See  Rosellini,  Monumenti  Storici,  pi.  lxxi. 


254  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

great  tableaux  which  line  the  walls  of  the  second  Egyptian 
room  at  the  British  Museum.  To  explain  away  Prince 
Amenherkhopeshef  would  be  difficult.  We  are  accus- 
tomed to  a  certain  amount  of  courtly  exaggeration  on  the 
part  of  those  who  record  with  pen  or  pencil  the  great  deeds 
of  the  Pharaohs.  We  expect  to  see  the  king  always  young, 
always  beautiful,  always  victorious.  It  seems  only  right 
and  natural  that  he  should  be  never  less  than  twenty  and 
sometimes  more  than  sixty  feet  in  height.  But  that  any 
flatterer  should  go  so  far  as  to  credit  a  lad  of  thirteen  with 
a  son  at  least  as  old  as  himself  is  surely  quite  incredible. 

Lastly,  there  is  the  evidence  of  the  Bible. 

Joseph  being  dead  and  the  Israelites  established  in 
Egypt,  there  comes  to  the  throne  a  Pharaoh  who  takes 
alarm  at  the  increase  of  this  alien  race  and  who  seeks  to 
check  their  too  rapid  multiplication.  He  not  only 
oppresses  the  foreigners,  but  ordains  that  every  male  infant 
born  to  them  in  their  bondage  shall  be  cast  into  the  river. 
This  Pharaoh  is  now  universally  believed  to  be  Rameses  II. 
Then  comes  the  old,  sweet,  familiar  Bible  story  that  we 
know  so  well.  Moses  is  born,  cast  adrift  in  the  ark  of  bul- 
rushes and  rescued  by  the  king's  daughter.  He  becomes 
to  her  "as  a  son."  Although  no  dates  are  given,  it  is 
clear  that  the  new  Pharaoh  has  not  been  long  upon  the 
throne  when  these  events  happen.  It  is  equally  clear  that 
he  is  no  mere  youth.  He  is  old  in  the  uses  of  state-craft ; 
and  he  is  the  father  of  a  princess  of  whom  it  is  difficult  to 
suppose  that  she  was  herself  an  infant. 

On  the  whole,  then,  we  can  but  conclude  that  Rameses 
II,  though  born  a  king,  was  not  merely  grown  to  man- 
hood, but  wedded,  and  the  father  of  children  already  past 
the  period  of  infancy,  before  he  succeeded  to  the  sole  ex- 
ercise of  sovereign  power.  This  is,  at  all  events,  the  view 
taken  by  Professor  Maspero,  who  expressly  says,  in  the 
latest  edition  of  his  "  Histoire  Ancienne,"  "that  Rameses 
II,  when  he  received  news  of  the  death  of  his  father,  was 
then  in  the  prime  of  life  and  surrounded  by  a  large 
family,  some  of  whom  were  of  an  age  to  fight  under  his 
command."  * 

Brugsch  places  the  birth   of  Moses  in  the  sixth  year  of 

*  "  A  la  nouvelle  de  la  niort  de  son  pere,  Ramses  II  desormais  seul 
roi,  quitta  PEthiopie  et  ceignit  la  couronne  a  Thebes.  II  etait  alors 
dans  la  plenitude  deses  forces,  et  avait  autour  de  lui  un  grand  nonibro 


RAMESES  THE  GREAT.  255 

the  reign  of  Rameses  II. *  This  may  very  well  be.  The 
fourscore  years  that  elapsed  between  that  time  and  the 
time  of  the  exodus  correspond  with  sufficient  exactness  to 
the  chronological  data  furnished  by  the  monuments. 
Moses  would  thus  see  out  the  sixty-one  remaining  years  of 
the  king's  long  life,  and  release  the  Israelites  from  bond- 
age toward  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Menepthah,  f  who  sat 
for  about  twenty  years  on  the  throne  of  his  fathers.  The 
correspondence  of  dates  this  time  leaves  nothing  to  be 
desired. 

The  Sesostris  of  Diodorus  Siculus  went  blind  and  died 
by  his  own  hand;  which  act,  says  the  historian,  as  it  con- 
formed to  the  glory  of  his  life,  was  greatly  admired  by  his 
people.  We  are  here  evidently  in  the  region  of  pure  fable. 
Suicide  was  by  no  means  an  Egyptian,  but  a  classical, 
virtue.  Just  as  the  Greeks  hated  age,  the  Egyptians 
reverenced  it;  and  it  may  be  doubted  whether  a  people 
who  seem  always  to  have  passionately  desired  length  of 
days  would  have  seen  anything  to  admire  in  a  willful  short- 

d'enfants,  dont  quelques-uns  etaient  assez  ages  pour  combattre  sous 
ses  ordres."— "  Histoire  Ancienne  des  Peuples  de  l'Orient,"  par  G. 
Maspero,  chap,  v,  p.  220.     4tli  edition,  1886. 

*  "  Comiue  Ramses  II  regna  60  ans,  le  regne  de  son  successeur  sous 
lequel  la  sortie  des  Juifs  eut  lieu,  embrassa  la  duree  de  20  ans;  et 
counne  Moi'se  avait  l'age  de  80  ans  au  temps  de  la  sortie,  il  en  resulte 
evidemment  que  les  enfants  d'Israel  quitterent  l'Egypte  une  des  ces 
derneires  six  annees  du  regne  de  Menepthah;  c'est  a  dire  entre  1327 
et  1331  avant  1'ere  chretienne.  Si  nous  admettons  que  ce  Pharaon 
perit  dans  la  mer,  selon  le  rapport  biblique,  Moise  sera  ne  80  ans 
avant  1321,  on  1401  avant  J.  Chr.,  la  sirieme  annee  de  regne  de  Ram- 
ses II."— "Histoire  d'Kgypte,"  Brugscb,  cbap.  viii,  p.  157.  First 
edition,  Leipzig,  1859. 

f  If  the  exodus  took  place,  however,  during  the  opening  years  of 
the  reign  of  Menepthah,  it  becomes  necessary  either  to  remove  the 
birth  of  Moses  to  a  correspondingly  earlier  date,  or  to  accept  the 
amendment  of  Bunsen,  who  says  ""we  can  hardly  take  literally  the 
statement  as  to  the  age  of  Moses  at  the  exodus,  twice  over  forty 
years."  Forty  years  is  the  mode  of  expressing  a  generation,  from 
thirty  to  thirty  -three  years.  "  Egypt's  Place  in  Universal  History," 
Bunsen,  London,  1859,  vol.  iii,  p.  184.  That  Meneptah  did  not  him- 
self perish  with  his  host,  seems  certain.  The  final  oppression  of  the 
Hebrews  and  the  miracles  of  Moses,  as  narrated  in  the  Bible,  give 
one  the  impression  of  having  all  happened  within  a  comparatively 
short  space  of  time;  and  cannot  have  extended  over  a  period  of 
twenty  years.  Neither  is  it  stated  that  Pharaoh  perished.  The  tomb 
of  Menepthah,  in  fact,  is  found  in  the  valley  of  the  tombs  of  the 
kings  (tomb  No.  8). 


256  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

ening  of  that  most  precious  gift  of  the  gods.  With  the 
one  exception  of  Cleopatra  —  the  death  of  Nitocris  the 
rosy-cheeked  being  also  of  Greek,*  and  therefore  question- 
able, origin — no  Egyptian  sovereign  is  known  to  have  com- 
mitted suicide  ;  and  even  Cleopatra,  who  was  half  Greek 
by  birth,  must  have  been  influenced  to  the  act  by  Greek 
and  Roman  example.  Dismissing,  then,  altogether  this 
legend  of  his  blindness  and  self-sl  a  tighter,  it  must  be  ad- 
mitted that  of  the  death  of  Rameses  II  Ave  know  nothing 
certain. 

Such  are,  very  briefly,  the  leading  facts  of  the  history 
of  this  famous  Pharaoh.  Exhaustively  treated,  they  would 
expand  into  a  volume.  Even  then,  however,  one  would 
ask,  and  ask  in  vain,  what  manner  of  man  he  was.  Every 
attempt  to  evolve  his  personal  character  from  these  scanty 
data  is  in  fact  a  mere  exercise  of  fancy,  f  That  he  was 
personally  valiant  may  be  gathered  with  due  reservation, 
from  the  poem  of  Pentaur  ;  and  that  he  was  not  unmerci- 
ful is  shown  in  the  extradition  clause  of  the  Khetan 
treaty.  His  pride  was  evidently  boundless.  Every  temple 
which  he  erected  was  a  monument  to  his  own  glory;  every 
colossus  was  a  trophy;  every  inscription  a  paean  of  self- 
praise.  At  Abou  Simbel,  at  Derr,  at  Gerf  Hossayn,  he 
seated  his  own  image  in  the  sanctuary  among  the  images 
of  the  gods.  J     There  are  even  instances  in  which  he  is 

*Herodotus,  book  ii. 

f  Rosellini,  for  instance, carries  hero-worship  to  its  extreme  limit  when 
he  not  only  states  that  Rameses  the  Great  had,  by  bis  conquests,  filled 
Egypt  with  luxuries  that  contributed  alike  to  the  graces  of  every-day 
life  and  the  security  of  tbe  state,  but  (accepting  as  sober  fact  tbe 
complimentary  language  of  a  triumphal  tablet)  adds,  that  "  universal 
peace  even  secured  to  him  tbe  love  of  the  vanquished  "  (l'universal 
pace  assicurata  dall'  amore  dei  vinti  stessi  pel  Faraone). — "Mon. 
Storici,"  vol.  iii,  part  ii,  p.  294.  Bunsen,  equally  prejudiced  in  tbe 
opposite  direction,  can  see  no  trait  of  magnanimity  or  goodness  in  one 
whom  he  loves  to  depict  as  "  an  unbridled  despot,  wbo  took  advan- 
tage of  a  reign  of  almost  unparalelled  lengtb,  and  of  tbe  acquisitions 
of  his  father  and  ancestors,  in  order  to  torment  his  own  subjects  and 
strangers  to  the  utmost  of  his  power,  and  to  employ  them  as  instru- 
ments of  his  passion  for  war  and  building." — "  Egypt's  Place  in  Uni- 
versal History,"  Bunsen,  vol.  iii,  book  iv,  part  ii,  p.  184. 

%  "  Souvent  il  s'introduit  lui  meine  dans  les  triades  divines  aux- 
quelles  il  dedie  les  temples.  Le  soldi  de  Ramses  Me'iamaun  qu'on 
apercoit  sur  leur  murailles,  n'est  autre  chose  que  le  roi  lui-meme 
deifie  de  son  vivant." — "Notice  des  Monuments  Egyptiennes  an 
Musee  du  Louvre."     De  Rouge,  Paris,  1875,  p.  20. 


R AMESES  THE  GREAT.  257 

depicted  under  the  twofold  aspect  of  royalty  and  divinity — 
Rameses  the  Pharaoh  burning  incense  before  Rameses  the 
Deity. 

For  the  rest,  it  is  safe  to  conclude  that  he  was  neither 
better  nor  worse  than  the  general  run  of  oriental  despots — 
that  he  was  ruthless  in  war,  prodigal  in  peace,  rapacious  of 
booty  and  unsparing  in  the  exercise  of  almost  boundless 
power.  Such  pride  and  such  despotism  were,  however,  in 
strict  accordance  with  immemorial  precedent  and  with 
the  temper  of  the  age  in  which  he  lived.  The  Egyptians 
would  seem  beyond  all  doubt  to  have  believed  that  their 
king  was  always  in  some  sense  divine.  They  wrote  hymns* 
and  offered  up  prayers  to  him,  and  regarded  him  as  the 
living  representative  of  deity.  His  princes  and  ministers 
habitually  addressed  him  in  the  language  of  worship. 
Even  his  wives,  who  ought  to  have  known  better,  are  repre- 
sented in  the  performance  of  acts  of  religious  adoration  be- 
fore him.  What  wonder,  then,  if  the  man  so  deified  be- 
lieved himself  a  god? 

*  See  Hymn  to  Pharaoh   (Menepthali),  translated  by  C.  W.  (iood- 
\'\fl,  M.  A.     "  Records  of  the  Past,"  vol.  vi,  p.  101. 


258  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

ABOU    SIMBEL. 

We  came  to  Abou  Simbel  on  the  night  of  the  31st  of 
January  and  we  left  at  sunset  on  the  18th  of  February. 
Of  these  eighteen  clear  days  we  spent  fourteen  at  the  foot 
of  the  rock  of  the  great  temple,  called  in  the  old  Egyptian 
tongue  the  Rock  of  Abshek.  The  remaining  four  (taken 
at  the  end  of  the  first  week  and  the  beginning  of  the 
second)  were  passed  in  the  excursion  to  Wady-Halfeh  and 
back.  By  thus  dividing  the  time  our  long  sojourn  was 
made  less  monotonous  for  those  who  had  no  especial  work 
to  do. 

Meanwhile  it  was  wonderful  to  wake  every  morning  close 
under  the  steep  bank,  and,  without  lifting  one's  head  from 
the  pillow,  to  see  that  row  of  giant  faces  so  close  against 
the  sky.  They  showed  unearthly  enough  by  moonlight, 
but  not  half  so  unearthly  as  in  the  gray  of  dawn.  At  that 
hour,  the  most  solemn  of  the  twenty-four,  they  wore  a 
fixed  and  fatal  look  that  was  little  less  than  appalling.  As 
the  sky  warmed  this  awful  look  was  succeeded  by  a  flush  that 
mounted  and  deepened  like  the  rising  flush  of  life.  For  a 
moment  they  seemed  to  glow — to  smile — to  be  transfigured. 
Then  came  a  flash,  as  of  thought  itself.  It  was  the  first  in- 
stantaneous flash  of  the  risen  sun.  It  lasted  less  than  a 
second.  It  was  gone  almost  before  one  could  say  it  was 
there.  The  next  moment  mountain,  river  and  sky  were 
distinct  in  the  steady  light  of  day;  and  the  colossi— mere 
colossi  now — sat  serene  and  stony  in  the  open  sunshine. 

Every  morning  I  waked  in  time  to  witness  that  daily 
miracle.  Every"  morning  I  saw  those  awful  brethren  pass 
from  death  to  life,  from  fife  to  sculptured  stone.  I  brought 
myself  almost  to  believe  at  last  that  there  must  sooner  or 
later  come  some  one  sunrise  when  the  ancient  charm 
would  snap  asunder  and  the  giants  must  arise  and  speak. 

Stupendous  as  they  are,  nothing  is  more  difficult  than  to 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  259 

see  the  colossi  properly.  Standing  between  the  rock  and 
the  river  one  is  too  near  ;  stationed  on  the  island  opposite 
one  is  too  far  off ;  while  from  the  sand-slope  only  a  side 
view  is  obtainable.  Hence,  for  want  of  a  fitting  stand- 
point, many  travelers  have  seen  nothing  but  deformity  in 
the  most  perfect  face  handed  down  to  us  by  Egyptian  art. 
One  recognizes  in  it  the  negro  and  one  the  Mongolian 
type  ;*  while  another  admires  the  fidelity  with  which  "  the 
Nubian  characteristics"  have  been  seized. 

Yet,  in  truth,  the  head  of  the  young  Augustus  is  not 
cast  in  a  loftier  mold.  These  statues  are  portraits — por- 
traits of  the  same  man  four  times  repeated  ;  and  that  man 
is  Rameses  the  Great. 

Now,  Rameses,  the  Great  if  he  was  as  much  like  his 
portraits  as  his  portraits  are  like  each  other,  must  have 
been  one  of  the  handsomest  men,  not  only  of  his  own  day, 
but  of  all  history.  Wheresoever  we  meet  with  him, 
whether  in  the  fallen  colossus  at  Memphis  or  in  the  syenite 
torso  of  the  British  Museum,  or  among  the  innumerable 
bas-reliefs  of  Thebes,  Abydos,  Goumah,  and  Bayt-elAVelly, 
his  features  (though  bearing  in  some  instances  the  impress 
of  youth  and  in  others  of  maturity)  are  always  the  same. 
The  face  is  oval;  the  eyes  are  long,  prominent,  and  heavy- 
lidded;  the  nose  is  slightly  aquiline  and  characteristically 

*  The  late  Vicomte  E.  de  Rouge,  in  a  letter  to  M.  Guigniaut  on  the 
discoveries  at  Tanis,  believes  that  he  detects  the  Semitic  type  in  the 
portraits  of  Rameses  II  and  Seti  I  ;  and  even  conjectures  that  the 
Pharaohs  of  the  ninteenth  dynasty  may  have  descended  from  Hyksos 
ancestors  :  "  L'origine  de  la  famille  des  Ramses  nous  est  jusqu'  ici 
completement  inconnue  ;  sa  predilection  pour  le  dieu  Set  on  Sutech, 
qui  eclate  des  Fabord  par  le  nom  de  Seti  1  (Sethos),  ainsi  que  d'autres 
indices,  pouvaient  deja  engager  a  la  reporter  vers  la  Basse  Egypte. 
Nous  savions  nieine  que  Ramses  II  avait  epouse  une  fille  du  Prince 
de  Khet,  quand  le  traite  de  l'an  22  eut  ramene  la  paix  entre  les  deux 
pays.  Le  profil  tres-decidement  semitique  de  Seti  et  de  Ramses  se 
distinguait  nettement  des  figures  ordinaires  de  nos  Pharaons  The- 
bains."  (See  "Revue  Archeologique,  vol.  ix,  A.  D.  1864.)  In  the 
course  of  the  same  letter,  M.  de  Rouge  adverts  to  the  magnificent 
restoration  of  the  temple  of  Sutech  at  Tanis  (San), by  Rameses  II  and 
to  the  curious  fact  that  the  god  is  there  represented  with  the  peculiar 
head-dress  worn  elsewhere  by  the  Prince  of  Kheta. 

It  is  to  be  remembered,  however,  that  the  patron  deity  of  Rameses 
II  was  Amen-Ra.  His  homage  of  Sutech  (which  might  possibly  have 
been  a  concession  to  his  Khetan  wife)  seems  to  have  been  confined 
almost  exclusively  to  Tanis,  where  Ma-at-iri-neferu-Ra  may  be  sup- 
posed to  have  resided. 


260 


A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


depressed  at  the  tip  ;  the  nostrils  are  open  and  sensitive  ; 
the  under  lip  projects;  the  chin  is  short  and  square. 

Here,   for   instance,  is   an   outline   from  a  bas-relief  at 

Bay t-el- Welly.      The    subject   is   commemorative   of   the 

king's  first  campaign.     A    beardless   youth,  fired  with  the 

rage  of   battle,  he   clutches  a  captive  by  the  hair  and  lifts 

his  mace    to  slay.     In  this  delicate  and 

Dantesque  face,  which  lacks  as  yet  the 

fullness  and  repose  of  the  later  portraits, 

we  recognize  all  the  distinctive  traits  of 

the  older  Eameses. 

Here,  again,   is  a  sketch  from  Abydos, 

in  which  the  king,  although  he  has  not 

'>.  yet  ceased  to  wear  the  side-lock  of  youth, 

*•  is  seen  with  a  boyish    beard,  and  looks 

some    three   or   four   years    older    than    in    the   previous 

portrait. 

It  is  interesting  to  compare  these 
heads  with  the  accompanying  profile 
of  one  of  the  caryatid  colossi  inside 
the  great  temple  of  Abou  Simbel;  and 
all  three  with  one  of  the  giant  portraits 
of  the  facade.  This  last,  whether  re- 
garded as  a  marvel  of  size  or  of  por- 
taiture,  is  the  chef-d'oeuvre  of  Egyp- 
tian sculpture.  We  here  see  the  great  king  in  his  prime. 
His  features  are  identical  with  those  of  the 
head  at  Bayt-el-Welly ;  but  the  contours  are 
more  amply  filled  in  and  the  expression  is 
altogether  changed.  The  man  is  full  fifteen 
or  twenty  years  older.  He  has  outlived  that 
rage  of  early  youth.  He  is  no  longer  impul- 
sive, but  implacable.  A  godlike  serenity,  an 
almost  superhuman  pride,  an  immutable  will, 
breathe  from  the  sculptured  stone.  He  has 
learned  to  believe  his  prowess  irresistible  and 
himself  almost  divine.  If  he  now  raised 
his  arm  to  slay  it  would  be  with  the  stern  placidity  of  a 
destroying  angel. 

The  annexed  wood-cut  gives  the  profile  of  the  southern- 
most colossus,  which  is  the  only  perfect — or  very  nearly  per- 
fect— one  of  the  four.  The  original  can  be  correctly 
seen    from    but    one  point   of  view ;  and  that    point  is 


ABOU  S1MBEL. 


261 


PROFILE   OF  RAMESES  II. 

(From  the  southermost  colossus,  Abou  Simbel.) 


262  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

where  the  sand -slope  meets  the  northern  buttress  of  the 
facade,  at  a  level  just  parallel  with  the  beards  of  the 
statues.  It  was  thence  that  the  present  outline  was  taken. 
The  sand-slope  is  steep  and  loose  and  hot  to  the  feet.  More 
disagreeable  climbing  it  would  be  hard  to  find,  even  in 
Nubia;  but  no  traveler  who  refuses  to  encounter  this  small 
hardship  need  believe  that  he  has  seen  the  faces  of  the 
colossi. 

Viewed  from  below,  this  beautiful  portrait  is  foreshort- 
ened out  of  all  proportion.  It  looks  unduly  wide  from  ear 
to  ear,  while  the  lips  and  the  lower  part  of  the  nose  show 
relatively  larger  than  the  rest  of  the  features.  The  same 
may  be  said  of  the  great  cast  in  the  British  Museum. 
Cooped  up  at  the  end  of  a  narrow  corridor  and  lifted  not 
more  than  fifteen  feet  above  the  ground,  it  is  carefully 
placed  so  as  to  be  wrong  from  every  point  of  view  and 
shown  to  the  greatest  possible  disadvantage. 

The  artists  who  wrought  the  original  statues  were,  how- 
ever, embarrassed  by  no  difficulties  of  focus,  daunted  by  no 
difficulties  of  scale.  Giants  themselves,  they  summoned 
these  giants  from  out  the  solid  rock  and  endowed  them 
with  superhuman  strength  and  beauty.  They  sought  no 
quarried  blocks  of  syenite  or  granite  for  their  work.  They 
fashioned  no  models  of  clay.  They  took  a  mountain  and 
fell  upon  it  like  Titans  and  hollowed  and  carved  it  as 
though  it  were  a  cherry  stone;  and  left  it  for  the  feebler 
men  of  after  ages  to  marvel  at  forever.  One  great  hall  and 
fifteen  spacious  chambers  they  hewed  out  from  the  heart  of 
it,  then  smoothed  the  rugged  precipice  toward  the  river, 
and  cut  four  huge  statues  with  their  faces  to  the  sunrise, 
two  to  the  right  and  two  to  the  left  of  the  doorway,  there 
to  keep  watcli  to  the  end  of  time. 

These  tremendous  warders  sit  sixty-six  feet  high,  without 
the  platform  under  their  feet.  They  measure  across  the  chest 
twenty-five  feet  and  four  inches;  from  the  shoulder  to  the 
elbow  fifteen  feet  and  six  inches;  from  the  inner  side  of  the 
elbow  joint  to  the  tip  of  the  middle  finger,  fifteen  feet;  and 
so  on,  in  relative  proportion.  If  they  stood  up,  they  would 
tower  to  a  height  of  at  least  eighty-three  feet,  from  the  soles 
of  their  feet  to  the  tops  of  their  enormous  double-crowns. 

Nothing  in  Egyptian  sculpture  is  perhaps  quite  so  won- 
derful as  the  way  in  which  these  Abou  Simbel  artists  dealt 
with  the  thousands  of  tons  of  material  to  which  they  here 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  263 

gave  human  form.  Consummate  masters  of  effect,  they 
knew  precisely  what  to  do  and  what  to  leave  undone. 
These  were  portrait  statues;  therefore  they  finished  the 
heads  up  to  the  highest  point  consistent  with  their  size. 
But  the  trunk  and  the  lower  limbs  they  regarded  from  a 
decorative  rather  than  a  statuesque  point  of  view.  As 
decoration,  it  was  necessary  that  they  should  give  size  and 
dignity  to  the  facade.  Everything,  consequently,  was 
here  subordinated  to  the  general  effect  of  breadth,  of  mas- 
siveness,  of  repose.  Considered  thus,  the  colossi  are  a 
triumph  of  treatment.  Side  by  side  they  sit,  placid  and 
majestic,  their  feet  a  little  apart,  their  hands  resting  on 
their  knees.  Shapely  though  they  are,  those  huge  legs 
look  scarcely  inferior  in  girth  to  the  great  columns  of  Kar- 
nak.  The  articulations  of  the  knee-joint,  the  swell  of  the 
calf,  the  outline  of  the  peroneus  longus  are  indicated  rather 
than  developed.  The  toe-nails  and  toe-joints  are  given  in 
the  same  bold  and  general  way;  but  the  fingers,  because 
only  the  tips  of  them  could  be  seen  from  below,  are  treated 
en  bloc. 

The  faces  show  the  same  largeness  of  style.  The  little 
dimple  which  gives  such  sweetness  to  the  corners  of  the 
mouth,  and  the  tiny  depression  in  the  lobe  of  the  ear,  are, 
in  fact,  circular  cavities  as  large  as  saucers. 

How  far  this  treatment  is  consistent  with  the  most  per- 
fect delicacy  and  even  finesse  of  execution  may  be  gathered 
from  the  sketch.  The  nose  there  shown  in  profile  is  three 
feet  and  a  half  in  length;  the  mouth,  so  delicately  curved, 
is  about  the  same  in  width;  even  the  sensitive  nostril, 
which  looks  ready  to  expand  with  the  breath  of  life, 
exceeds  eight  inches  in  length.  The  ear  (which  is  placed 
high  and  is  well  detached  from  the  head)  measures  three 
feet  and  five  inches  from  top  to  tip. 

A  recent  writer,*  who  brings  sound  practical  knowledge 

*  "  L 'absence  de  points  fouilles,  la  simplification  voulue,  la  restric- 
tion desdetails  et  des  orneinents  a  quelques  sillons  plus  ou  moins 
bardis,  l'engorgement  de  toutes  les  parties  delicates,  demontrent  que 
les  Egyptiens  etaient  loin  ^d'avoir  des  precedes  et  des  facilites  in- 
connus." — "  La  Scripture  Egyptienne,"  par  Eniile  Soldi,  p.  48. 

"  Un  fait  qui  nous  parait  avoir  du  entraver  les  progres  de  la  sculp- 
ture, c'est  l'babitude  probable  des  sculpteurs  ou  entrepreneurs 
Egyptiens  d'entre  prendre  le  travail  a  meme  sur  la  pierre,  sans  avoir 
prealablement  cbercbe  le  niodele  en  terre  glaise,  conime  on  le  fait  de 
nos  jours.     Une  Ms  le  niodele  fini,  on  le  moule  et  on  le  reproduit 


264  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

to  bear  upon  the  subject,  is  of  opinion  that  the  Egyptian 
sculptors  did  not  even  "  point"  their  work  beforehand.  If 
so,  then  the  marvel  is  only  so  much  the  greater.  The  men 
who,  working  in  so  coarse  and  friable  a  material,  could  not 
only  give  beauty  and  finish  to  heads  of  this  size,  but  could, 
with  barbaric  tools,  hew  them  out  ab  initio,  from  the 
natural  rock,  were  the  Michael  Angelos  of  their  age. 

It  has  already  been  said  that  the  last  Eameses  to  the 
southward  is  the  best  preserved.  His  left  arm  and  hand 
are  injured,  and  the  head  of  the  urasus  sculptured  on  the 
front  of  the  pschent  is  gone;  but  with  these  exceptions  the 
figure  is  as  whole,  as  fresh  in  surface,  as  sharp  in  detail,  as 
on  the  day  it  was  completed.  The  next  is  shattered  to  the 
waist.  His  head  lies  at  his  feet,  half-buried  in  sand.  The 
third  is  nearly  as  perfect  as  the  first;  while  the  fourth  has 
lost  not  only  the  whole  beard  and  the  greater  part  of  the 
urams,  but  has  both  arms  broken  away  and  a  big,  cavern- 
ous hole  in  the  front  of  the  body.  From  the  double-crowns 
of  the  two  last  the  top  ornament  is  also  missing.  It  looks 
a  mere  knob;  but  it  measures  eight  feet  in  height. 

Such  an  effect  does  the  size  of  these  four  figures  produce 
on  the  mind  of  the  sjiectator  that  he  scarcely  observes  the 
fractures  they  have  sustained.  I  do  not  remember  to  have 
even  missed  the  head  and  body  of  the  shattered  one, 
although  nothing  is  left  of  it  above  the  knees.  Those 
huge    legs    and    feet,    covered  with  ancient  inscriptions,* 

mathematiquernent  definitive.  Ce  procede  a  toujours  ete  employe 
dans  les  grandes  epoques  de  l'art;  et  il  ne  nous  a  pas  seinble  qu'il  ait 
jamais  ete  en  usage  en  Egypte." — Ibid,  p.  82. 

M.  Soldi  is  also  of  opinion  that  the  Egyptian  sculptors  were  igno- 
rant of  many  of  the  most  useful  tools  known  to  the  Greek,  Roman,  and 
modern  sculptors,  such    as  the  emery-tube,  the  diamond-point,    etc. 

*  On  the  left  leg  of  this  colossus  is  the  famous  Greek  inscription 
discovered  by  Messrs.  Bankes  and  Salt.  It  dates  from  the  reign  of 
Psamatichus  I,  and  purports  to  have  been  cut  by  a  certain  Da- 
rnearchon,  one  of  the  two  hundred  and  forty  thousand  Egyptian 
troops  of  whom  it  is  related  by  Herodotus  (book  ii,  chaps,  xxix  and 
xxx)  that  they  deserted  because  they  were  kept  in  garrison  at  Syene  for 
three  years  without  being  relieved.  The  inscription,  as  translated 
by  Colonel  Leake,  is  thus  given  in  Rawlingson's  "Herodotus"  (vol.  ii, 
p.  37);  "King  Psamatichus  having  come  to  Elephantine,  those  who 
were  with  Psamatichus,  the  son  of  Theocles,  wrote  this:  'They  sailed, 
and  came  to  above  Kerkis,  to  where  the  river  rises  .  .  .  the 
Egyptian  Amasis.  .  .  .'  The  writer  is  Damearchon,  the  son  of 
Aincebichus,  and  Pelephus  (Pelekos),   the  son  of  Udamus."    The 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  205 

some  of  Greek,  some  of  Phoenician  origin,  tower  so  high 
above  the  heads  of  those  who  look  at  them  from  below 
that  one  scarcely  thinks  of  looking  higher  still. 

The  figures  are  naked  to  the  waist  and  clothed  in  the 
usual  striped  tunic.  On  their  heads  they  wear  the  double- 
crown,  and  on  their  necks  rich  collars  of  cabochon  drops 
cut  in  very  low  relief.  The  feet  are  bare  of  sandals  and 
the  arms  of  bracelets;  but  in  the  front  of  the  body,  just 
where  the  customary  belt  and  buckle  would  come,  are 
deep  holes  in  the  stone,  such  as  might  have  been  made  to 
receive  rivets,  supposing  the  belts  to  have  been  made  of 
bronze  or  gold.  On  the  breast,  just  below  the  necklace, 
and  on  the  upper  part  of  each  arm,  are  cut  in  magnificent 
ovals,  between  four  and  five  feet  in  length,  the  ordinary 
cartouches  of  the  king.  These  were  probably  tattooed 
upon  his  person  in  the  flesh. 

Some  have  supposed  that  these  statues  were  originally 
colored,  and  that  the  color  may  have  been  effaced  by  the 
ceaseless  shifting  and  blowing  of  the  sand.  Yet  the  drift 
was  probably  at  its  highest  when  Burckhardt  discovered 
the  place  in  1813  ;  and  on  the  two  heads  that  were  still 
above  the  surface  he  seems  to  have  observed  no  traces  of 
color.  Neither  can  the  keenest  eye  detect  any  vestige  of 
that  delicate  film  of  stucco  with  which  the  Egyptians  in- 
variably prepared  their  surfaces  for  painting.  Perhaps  the 
architects  were  for  once  content  with  the  natural  color  of 
the  sandstone,  which  is  here  very  rich  and  varied.  It 
happens,  also,  that  the  colossi  come  in  a  light-colored  vein 
of  the  rock,  and  so  sit  relieved  against  a  darker  back- 
ground. Toward  noon,  when  the  level  of  the  facade  has 
just  passed  into  shade  and  the  sunlight  still  strikes  upon 
the  statues,  the  effect  is  quite  startling.  The  whole  thing, 
which  is  then  best  seen  from  the  island,  looks  like  a  huge 
onyx-cameo  cut  in  high  relief. 

A  statue  of  Ra,*  to  whom  the  temple  is  dedicated,  stands 
some  twenty  feet  high  in  a  niche  over  the  doorway,  and  is 
supported  on  either  side  by  a  bas-relief  portrait  of  the 
king  in  an  attitude  of  worship.  Next  above  these  comes  a 
superb  hieroglyphic  inscription  reaching  across  the  whole 

king  Psainatickus  here  named  has  been  identified  with  the  Psamtik 
I  of  the  inscriptions.  It  was  in  his  reign,  and  not  as  it  has  some- 
times been  supposed,  in  the  reign  of  Psamatichus  II,  that  the  great 
military  defection  took  place. 


206  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

front;  above  the  inscription,  a  band  of  royal  cartouches  ; 
above  the  cartouches,  a  frieze  of  sitting  apes;  above  the 
apes,  last  and  highest,  some  fragments  of  a  cornice.  The 
height  of  the  whole  may  have  been  somewhat  over  a  hun- 
dred feet.  Wherever  it  has  been  possible  to  introduce 
them  as  decoration,  we  see  the  ovals  of  the  king.  Under 
those  sculptured  on  the  platform  and  over  the  door  I  ob- 
served the  hieroglypic  character  /  *  \lf  #/  *  ■.  which,  in  con- 
junction with  the  sign  known  ^  V^l/  J  as  the  deter- 
minative of  metals,  signifies  gold  (nub)  ;  but  when 
represented,  as  here,  without  the  determinative,  stands  for 
Nubia,  the  Land  of  Gold.  This  addition,  which  I  do  not 
remember  to  have  seen  elsewhere  in  connection  with  the 
cartouches  of  Rameses  II,  f  is  here  used  in  an  heraldic 
sense,  as  signifying  the  sovereignty  of  Nubia. 

The  relative  positions  of  the  two  temples  of  Abou  Simbel 
have  been  already  described — how  they  are  excavated  in  two 
adjacent  mountains  and  divided  by  a  cataract  of  sand. 
The  front  of  the  small  temple  lies  parallel  to  the  course  of 
the  Nile,  here  flowing  in  a  northeasterly  direction.  The 
facade  of  the  great  temple  is  cut  in  the  flank  of  the  mount- 
ain and  faces  due  east.  Thus  the  colossi,  towering  above 
the  shoulder  of  the  sand-drift,  catch,  as  it  were,  a  side  view 
of  the  small  temple  and  confront  vessels  coming  up  the 
river.  As  for  the  sand-drift,  it  curiously  resembles  the 
glacier  of  the  Rhone.  In  size,  in  shape,  in  position,  in 
all  but  color  and  substance,  it  is  the  same.  Pent  in  be- 
tween the  rocks  at  top,  it  opens  out  like  a  fan  at  bottom. 
In  this,  its  inevitable  course,  it  slants  downward  across  the 

*  Ra,  the  principal  solar  divinity,  generally  represented  with  the 
head  of  a  hawk  and  the  sun-disk  on  his  head.  "  Ra  veut  dlrefaire, 
disposer;  c'est,  en  effet,  le  dieu  Ra  qui  a  disposie  organse  le  monde, 
dont  la  matierejui  a  ete  donnee  par  Ptah." — P.  Pierret:  "  Dictionaire 
d'Archeologie  Egyptienne." 

"  Ra  est  une  autre  des  intelligence  demiurgiques.  Ptah  avait 
cree  le  soleil;  le  soleil,  a  son  tour,  est  le  createur  des  etres,  animaux 
et  homines.  II  est  a  l'hemisphere  superieure  ce  qu'Osiris  est  a 
l'hemisphere  inferieure.  Ra  s'incarne  a,  Heliopis." — A.  Mariette: 
"Notice  des  Monuments  a  Boulak,"  p.  123. 

f  An  instance  occurs,  however,  in  a  small  inscription  sculptured 
on  the  rocks  of  the  Island  of  Sehayl  in  the  first  cataract,  which 
records  the  second  panegyry  of  the  reign  of  Rameses  II. — See  "  Re- 
cuil  des  Monuments,  etc.:"  B-rugsch,  vol.  ii,  Planche  lxxxii,  Inscrip- 
tion No.  6. 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  267 

facade  of  the  great  temple.  Forever  descending,  drifting, 
accumulating,  it  wages  the  old  stealthy  war;  and,  un- 
hasting,  unresting,  labors,  grain  by  grain,  to  fill  the  hol- 
lowed chambers  and  bury  the  great  statues  and  wrap  the 
whole  temple  in  a  winding-sheet  of  golden  sand,  so  that 
the  place  thereof  shall  know  it  no  more. 

It  had  very  nearly  come  to  this  when  Burckhardt  went 
up  (a.  d.  1813).  The  top  of  the  doorway  was  then  thirty 
feet  below  the  surface.  Whether  the  sand  will  ever  reach 
that  height  again  must  depend  on  the  energy  with  which 
it  is  combated.  It  can  only  be  cleared  as  it  accumulates. 
To  avert  it  is  impossible.  Backed  by  the  illimitable  wastes 
of  the  Libyan  desert,  the  supply  from  above  is  inex- 
haustible, borne  it  must;  and  come  it  will,  to  the  end  of 
time. 

The  drift  rose  to  the  lap  of  the  northernmost  colossus 
and  half-wav  up  the  legs  of  the  next  when  the  Philaj  lay 
at  Abou  Simbel.  The  doorway  was  clear,  however,  almost 
to  the  threshold,  and  the  sand  inside  was  not  more  than 
two  feet  deep  in  the  first  hall.  The  whole  facade,  we  were 
told,  had  been  laid  bare,  and  the  interior  swept  and  gar- 
nished, when  the  Empress  of  the  French,  after  opening  the 
Suez  Canal  in  1SG9,  went  up  the  Nile  as  far  as  the  second 
cataract.  By  this  time,  most  likely,  that  yellow  carpet  lies 
thick  and  soft  in  every  chamber,  and  is  fast  silting  up  the 
doorway  again. 

How  well  I  remember  the  restless  excitement  of  our  first 
day  at  Abou  Simbel!  While  the  morning  was  yet  cool,  the 
painter  and  writer  wandered  to  and  fro,  comparing  and 
selecting  points  of  view  and  superintending  the  pitching 
of  their  tents.  The  painter  planted  his  on  the  very  brink 
of  the  bank,  face  to  face  witli  the  colossi  and  the  open  door- 
way. The  writer  perched  some  forty  feet  higher  on  the  pitch 
of  the  sandslope;  so  getting  a  side  view  of  the  facade  and 
a  peep  of  distance  looking  up  the  river.  To  fix  the  tent 
up  there  was  no  easy  matter.  It  was  only  by  sinking  the 
tent-pole  in  a  hole  filled  with  stones  that  it  could  be 
trusted  to  stand  against  the  steady  push  of  the  north  wind, 
which  at  this  season  is  almost  always  blowing. 

Meanwhile  the  travelers  from  the  other  dahabeeyahs 
were  tramping  backward  and  forward  between  the  two 
temples;  filling  the  air  with  laughter  and  waking  strange 
echoes  in   the  hollow  mountains.     As  the  day  wore  on, 


268  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

however,  they  returned  to  their  boats,  which  one  by  one 
spread  their  sails  and  bore  away  for  Wady  Halfeh. 

When  they  were  fairly  gone  and  we  had  the  marvelous 
place  all  to  ourselves  we  went  to  see  the  temples. 

The  smaller  one,  though  it  comes  first  in  order  of  sail- 
ing, is  generally  seen  last ;  and  seen  therefore  to  dis- 
advantage. To  eyes  fresh  from  the  "  Abode  of  Ra,"  the 
"Abode  of  Hathor"  looks  less  than  its  actual  size;  which 
is,  in  fact,  but  little  inferior  to  that  of  the  temple  at  Derr. 
A  first  hall,  measuring  some  forty  feet  in  length  by  twenty- 
one  in  width,  leads  to  a  transverse  corridor,  two  side- 
chambers,  and  a  sanctuary  seven  feet  square,  at  the  upper 
end  of  which  are  the  shattered  remains  of  a  cow-headed 
statue  of  Hathor.  Six  square  pillars,  as  at  Derr,  support 
what,  for  want  of  a  better  word,  one  must  call  the  ceiling 
of  the  hall ;  though  the  ceiling  is,  in  truth,  the  super- 
incumbent mountain. 

In  this  arrangement,  as  in  the  general  character  of  the 
bas-relief  sculptures  which  cover  the  walls  and  pillars, 
there  is  much  simplicity,  much  grace,  but  nothing  particu- 
larly new.  The  facade,  on  the  contrary,  is  a  daring  innova- 
tion. Here  the  whole  front  is  but  a  frame  for  six  recesses, 
from  each  of  which  a  colossal  statue,  erect  and  lifelike,  seems 
to  be  walking  straight  out  from  the  heart  of  the  mountain. 
These  statues,  three  to  the  right  and  three  to  the  left  of 
the  doorway,  stand  thirty  feet  high,  and  represent  Rame- 
ses  II  and  Nefertari,  his  queen.  Mutilated  as  they  are, 
the  male  figures  are  full  of  spirit  and  the  female  figures 
full  of  grace.  The  queen  wears  on  her  head  the  plumes 
and  disk  of  Hathor.  The  king  is  crowned  with  the 
pschent  and  with  a  fantastic  helmet  adorned  with  plumes 
and  horns.  They  have  their  children  with  them  ;  the 
queen  her  daughters,  the  king  his  sons — infants  of  ten 
feet  high,  whose  heads  just  reach  to  the  parental  knee. 

The  walls  of  these  six  recesses,  as  they  follow  the  slope 
of  the  mountain,  form  massive  buttresses,  the  effect  of 
which  is  wonderfully  bold  in  light  and  shadow.  The 
doorway  gives  the  only  instance  of  a  porch  that  we  saw  in 
either  Egypt  or  Nubia.  The  superb  hieroglyphs  which 
cover  the  faces  of  these  buttresses  and  the  front  of  this 
porch  are  cut  half  a  foot  deep  into  the  rock  and  are  so 
large  that  they  can  be  read  from  the  island  in  the  middle 
of   the  river.     The   tale  they  tell  —  a  tale  retold  in  many 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  269 

varied  turns  of  old   Egyptian  style   upon  the  architraves 
within — is  singular  and  interesting. 

"Barneses,  the  Strong  in  Truth,  the  Beloved  of  Amen,_ 
says   the   outer  legend,  "made  this  di vice  abode*  for  his 
royal  wife,  Nefertari,  whom  he  loves." 

The  legend  within,  after  enumerating  the  titles  of  the 
king,  records  that  "his  royal  wife  who  loves  him,  Nefer- 
tarithe  beloved  of  Maut,  constructed  for  him  this  abode  in 
the  mountain  of  the  pure  waters." 

On  every  pillar,  in  every  act  of  worship  pictured  on  the 
walls,  even  in  the  sanctuaVy,  we  find  the  names  of  Rameses 
and  Nefertari  "  coupled  and  inseparable.  In  this  double 
dedication  and  in  the  unwonted  tenderness  of  the  style 
one  seems  to  detect  traces  of  some  event,  perhaps  of  some 
anniversary,  the  particulars  of  which  are  lost  for- 
ever. It  may  have  been  a  meeting  ;  it  may  have  been  a 
parting  ;  it  may  have  been  a  prayer  answered  or  a  vow 
fulfilled.  We  see,  at  all  events,  that  Rameses  and  Nefertari 
desired  to  leave  behind  them  an  imperishable  record  of  the 
affection  which  united  them  on  earth  and  which  they 
hoped  would  reunite  them  in  Amemti.  What  more  do  we 
need  to  know?     We  see  that  the  cpieen  was  fair;f  that  the 

*  Though  dedicated  by  Rameses  to  Nefertari,  and  by  Nefertari  to 
Rameses  "this  temple  was  placed,  primarily,  under  the  patronage  of 
Hatbor,  the  supreme  type  of  divine  maternity.  She  is  represented 
bv  Queen  Nefertari,  who  appears  on  the  facade  as  the  mother  of 
six  children  and  adorned  with  the  attributes  of  the  goddess.  A 
temple  to  Hatbor  would  also  be,  from  a  religious  point  of  view,  the 
fitting  pendant  to  a  temple  of  Ra.  M.  Mariette,  in  his  "  Notice  des 
Monuments  a  Boulak,"  remarks  of  Hatbor  that  her  functions  are 
still  but  imperfectly  known  to  us.  "  Peutetre  etait-elle  a  Ra  ce  que 
Maut  est  a  Amnion,  le  recipient  oil  le  dieu  s'engendre  lui-meme 
pour  l'eternite." 

+  It  is  not  often  that  one  can  say  of  a  female  head  in  an  Egyptian 
wall  painting  that  it  is  beautiful;  but  in  these  portraits  of  the  queen, 
many  times  repeated  upon  the  walls  of  the  first  hall  of  the  Temple  of 
Hatbor,  there  is,  if  not  positive  beauty  according  to  our  western 
notions,  much  sweetness  and  much  grace.  The  name  of  Nefertari 
means  perfect,  good,  or  beautiful  companion.  That  the  word 
"Nefer"  should  mean  both  good  and  beautiful— in  fact,  that  beauty  and 
goodness  should  be  synonymous  terms— is  not  merely  interesting  as  it 
indicates  a  lofty  philosophical  standpoint,  but  as  it  reveals,  perhaps, 
the  latent  germ 'of  that  doctrine  which  was  hereafter  to  be  taught  with 
such  brilliant  results  in  the  Alexandrian  schools.  It  is  remarkable 
that  the  word  for  truth  and  justice  {Ma)  was  also  one  and  the  same. 

There  is  often  a  quaint  significance  about  Egyptian  proper  names 


270  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

king  was  in  his  prime.  We  divine  the  rest;  and  the  poetry 
of  the  place,  at  all  events,  is  ours.  Even  in  these  barren 
solitudes  there  is  wafted  to  us  a  breath  from  the  shores  of 
old  romance.  We  feel  that  Love  once  jmssed  this  way  and 
that  the  ground  is  still  hallowed  where  he  trod. 

We  hurried  on  to  the  great  temple,  without  waiting  to 
examine  the  lesser  one  in  detail.  A  solemn  twilight 
reigned  in  the  first  hall,  beyond  which  all  was  dark. 
Eight  colossi,  four  to  the  right  and  four  to  the  left,  stand 
ranged  down  the  center,  bearing  the  mountain  on  their 
heads.  Their  height  is  twenty-five  feet.  With  hands 
crossed  on  their  breasts,  they  clasp  the  flail  and  crook — 
emblems  of  majesty  and  dominion.  It  is  the  attitude  of 
Osiris,  but  the  face  is  the  face  of  Rameses  II.  Seen  by 
this  dim  light,  shadowy,  mournful,  majestic,  they  look  as 
i'f  they  remembered  the  past. 

Beyond  the  first  hall  lies  a  second  hall  supported  on  four 
square  pillars;  beyond  this,  again,  a  transverse  chamber, 
the  walls  of  which  are  covered  with  colored  bas-reliefs  of 
various  gods;  last  of  all,  the  sanctuary.  Here,  side  by 
side,  sit  four  figures  larger  than  life — Ptah,  Amen-Ra,  Ra 
and  Rameses  deified.  Before  them  stands  an  altar,  in 
shape  a  truncated  pyramid,  cut  from  the  solid  rock. 
Traces  of  color  yet  linger  on  the  garments  of  the  statues ; 
while  in  the  walls  on  either  side  are  holes  and  grooves  such 
as  might  have  been  made  to  receive  a  screen  of  metal-work. 

The  air  in  the  sanctuary  was  heavy  with  an  acrid  smoke, 
as  if  the  priests  had  been  burning  some  strange  incense 
and  were  only  just  gone.  For  this  illusion  we  were 
indebted  to  the  visitors  who  had  been  there  before  us. 
They  had  lit  the  place  with  magnesian  wire  ;  the  vapor  of 
which  lingers  long  in  these  unventilated  vaults. 

To  settle  down  then  and  there  to  a  steady  investigation 
of  the  wall-sculptures  was  impossible.  We  did  not  attempt 
it.  Wandering  from  hall  to  hall,  from  chamber  to  cham- 
ber ;  now  trusting  to   the  faint  gleams  that  straggled  in 

which  reminds  one  of  the  names  that  came  into  favor  in  England  under 
the  commonwealth.  Take,  forinstance,  Bak-en-Khonsu,  Servant-of- 
Khons;  Pa-ta-Amen,  the  Gift  of  Amnion;  Renpitnefer,  Good-year; 
Nub-en  Tekh,  Worth-Her-Weight-in-Gold  (both  women's  names);  and 
Hor-mes-ouV-a-Shu,  Horns  Son-of-the-Eye-of-Shu — which  last,  as  a 
tolerably  long  compound,  may  claim  relationship  with  Praise-God 
l'arebones,  Hew-Agag-in  Pieces-before-the-Lord,  etc. 


ABOU  SIMBEL.  271 

from  without,  now  stumbling  along  by  the  light  of  a  bunch 
of  candles  tied  to  the  end  of  a  stick,  we  preferred  to 
receive  those  first  impressions  of  vastness,  of  mystery,  of 
gloomy  magnificance,  which  are  the  more  profound  for 
being  somewhat  vague  and  general. 

Scenes  of  war,  of  triumph,  of  worship,  passed  before  our 
eyes  like  the  incidents  of  a  panorama.  Here  the  king, 
borne  along  at  full  gallop  by  plumed  steeds  gorgeously 
caparisoned,  draws  his  mighty  bow  and  attacks  a  battle- 
mented  fortress.  The  besieged,  some  of  whom  are  trans- 
fixed by  his  tremendous  arrows,  supplicate  for  mercy.  They 
are  a  Syrian  people  and  are  by  some  identified  with  the 
northern  Hittites.  Their  skin  is  yellow;  and  they  wear 
the  long  hair  and  beard,  the  fillet,  the  rich  robe,  fringed 
cape  and  embroidered  baldric  with  which  we  are  familiar 
in  the  Nineveh  sculptures.  A  man  driving  off  cattle  in 
the  foreground  looks  as  if  he  had  stepped  out  of  one  of  the 
tablets  in  the  British  Museum.  Rameses  meanwhile 
towers,  swift  and  godlike,  above  the  crowd.  His  coursers 
are  of  such  immortal  strain  as  were  the  coursers  of 
Achilles.  His  sons,  his  whole  army,  chariot  and  horse, 
follow  headlong  at  his  heels.  All  is  movement  and  the 
splendor  of  battle. 

Farther  on  we  see  the  king  returning  in  state,  preceded 
by  his  prisoners  of  war.  Tied  together  in  gangs  they  stag- 
ger as  they  go,  with  heads  thrown  back  and  hands  uplifted. 
These,  however,  are  not  Assyrians,  but  Abyssinians  and 
Nubians,  so  true  to  the  type,  so  thick-lipped,  fiat-nosed  and 
woolly-headed,  that  only  the  pathos  of  the  expression  saves 
them  from  being  ludicrous.  It  is  naturalness  pushed  to 
the  verge  of  caricature. 

A  little  farther  still  and  we  find  Rameses  leading  a 
string  of  these  captives  into  the  presence  of  Amen-Ra, 
Mautand  Khons — Amen-Ra  weird  and  unearthly,  with  his 
blue  complexion  and  towering  plumes  ;  Maut  wearing  the 
crown  of  Upper  Egypt  ;  Khons,  by  a  subtle  touch  of  flat- 
tery, depicted  with  the  features  of  the  king.  Again,  to 
right  and  left  of  the  entrance,  Rameses,  thrice  the  size  of 
life,  slays  a  group  of  captives  of  various  nations.  To  the 
left  Amen-Ra,  to  the  right   Ra   Harmachis,*   approve  and 

*  Ra  Harrnachis,  in  Egyptian  Har-ein-Khou-ti,  personifies  the  sun 
rising  upon  the  eastern  horizon. 


272  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

jiccejjt  the  sacrifice.  In  the  second  hall  we  see,  as  usual, 
the  procession  of  the  sacred  bark.  Ptah,  Khem  and  Bast, 
gorgeous  in  many-colored  garments,  gleam  dimly,  like  fig- 
ures in  faded  tapestry,  from  the  walls  of  the  transverse 
corridor. 

But  the  wonder  of  Abou  Simbel  is  the  huge  subject  on 
the  north  side  of  the  great  hall.  This  is  a  monster  battle- 
piece  which  covers  an  area  of  fifty-seven  feet  seven  inches 
in  length,  by  twenty-five  feet  four  inches  in  height, 
and  contains  over  eleven  hundred  figures.  Even  the  her- 
aldic cornice  of  cartouches  and  asps  which  runs  round  the 
rest  of  the  ceiling  is  omitted  on  this  side,  so  that  the  wall 
is  literally  filled  with  the  picture  from  top  to  bottom. 

Fully  to  describe  this  huge  design  would  take  many 
pages.  It  is  a  picture-gallery  in  itself.  It  represents  not 
a  single  action,  but  a  whole  campaign.  It  sets  before  us, 
with  Homeric  simplicity,  the  pomp  and  circumstance  of 
Avar,  the  incidents  of  camp  life  and  the  accidents  of  the 
open  field.  We  see  the  enemy's  city,  with  its  battlemented 
towers  and  triple  moat;  the  besigers'  camp  and  the  pavil- 
ion of  the  king;  the  march  of  infantry:  the  shock  of 
chariots;  the  hand-to-hand  melee;  the  flight  of  the  van- 
quished; the  triumph  of  the  Pharaoh;  the  bringing  in  of 
the  prisoners;  the  counting  of  the  hands  of  the  slain.  A 
great  river  winds  through  the  picture  from  end  to  end  and 
almost  surrounds  the  invested  city.  The  king  in  his  chariot 
pursues  a  crowd  of  fugitives  along  the  bank.  Some  are 
crushed  under  his  wheels;  some  plunge  into  the  water  and 
are  drowned.*  Behind  him,  a  moving  wall  of  shields  and 
spears,  advances  with  rhythmic  step  the  serried  phalanx; 
while  yonder,  where  the  fight  is  thickest,  we  see  chariots 
overturned,  men  dead  and  dying,  and  riderless  horses  mak- 
ing for  the  open.  Meanwhile,  the  besieged  send  out 
mounted  scouts  and  the  country  folk  drive  their  cattle  to 
the  hills. 

A  grand  frieze  of  chariots  charging  at  full  gallop  divides 
the  subject  lengthwise  and  separates  the  Egyptian  camp 
from  the  field  of  battle.  The  camp  is  square  and  inclosed, 
apparently,  in  a  palisade  of  shields.  It  occupies  less  than 
one-sixth  part  of  the  picture  and  contains  about  a  hundred 
figures.     Within  this  narrow  space  the  artist  has  brought 

*See  chap,  viii,  p.  126,  also  chap.  xxi. 


ABOU  SI  MB  EL.  2?3 

together  an  astonishing  variety  of  incidents.  The  horses 
feed  in  rows  from  a  common  manger,  or  wait  their  turn 
and  impatiently  paw  the  ground.  Some  are  lying  down. 
One,  just  unharnessed,  scampers  round  the  inclosure. 
Another,  making  off  with  the  empty  chariot  at  his  heels, 
is  intercepted  by  a  couple  of  grooms.  Other  grooms 
bring  buckets  of  water  slung  from  the  shoulders  on  wooden 
yokes.  A  wounded  officer  sits  apart,  his  head  resting  on  his 
hand;  and  an  orderly  comes  in  haste  to  bring  him  news  of 
the  battle.  Another,  hurt  apparently  in  the  foot,  is  hav- 
ing the  wound  dressed  by  a  surgeon.  Two  detachments  of 
infantry,  marching  out  to  re-enforce  their  comrades  in 
action,  are  met  at  the  entrance  to  the  camp  by  the  royal 
chariot  returning  from  the  field.  Rameses  drives  before 
him  some  fugitives  who  are  trampled  down,  seized  and 
dispatched  upon  the  spot.  In  one  corner  stands  a  row  of 
objects  that  look  like  joints  of  meat;  and  near  them  are  a 
small  altar  and  a  tripod  brazier.  Elsewhere,  a  couple  of 
soldiers,  with  a  big  bowl  between  them,  sit  on  their  heels 
and  dip  their  fingers  in  the  mess,  precisely  as  every  fellah 
does  to  this  day.  Meanwhile,  it  is  clear  that  Egyptian  disci- 
pline was  strict  and  that  the  soldier  who  transgressed  was 
as  abjectly  subject  to  the  rule  of  stick  as  his  modern 
descendant.  In  no  less  than  three  places  do  we  see 
this  time-honored  institution  in  full  operation,  the  supe- 
rior officer  energetically  flourishing  his  staff  ;  the  private 
taking  his  punishment  with  characteristic  disrelish.  In 
the  middle  of  the  camp,  watched  over  by  his  keeper,  lies 
Rameses'  tame  lion  ;  while  close  against  the  royal  pavilion 
a  hostile  spy  is  surprised  and  stabbed  by  the  officer  on 
guard.  The  pavilion  itself  is  very  curious.  It  is  evi- 
dently not  a  tent  but  a  building,  and  was  probably  an  ex- 
temporaneous construction  of  crude  brick.  It  has  four 
arched  doorways,  and  contains  in  one  corner  an  object  like 
a  cabinet,  with  two  sacred  hawks  for  supporters.  This  ob- 
ject, which  is  in  fact  almost  identical  with  the  hieroglyphic 
emblem  used  to  express  a  royal  panegyry  or  festival,  stands, 
no  doubt,  for  the  private  oratory  of  the  king.  Five  fig- 
ures kneeling  before  it  in  adoration. 

To  enumerate  all  or  half  the  points  of  interest  in  this 
amazing  picture  would  ask  altogether  too  much  space. 
Even  to  see  it,  with  time  at  command  and  all  the  help  that 
candles  and  magnesiau  torches  can  give,  is  far  from  easy. 


274  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

The  relief  is  unusually  low,  and  the  surface,  having  origi- 
nally been  covered  with  stucco,  is  purposely  roughened  all 
over  with  tiny  chisel  marks,  which  painfully  confuse  the 
details.  Nor  is  this  all.  Owing  to  some  kind  of  saline 
ooze  in  that  part  of  the  rock,  the  stucco  has  not  only 
peeled  off,  but  the  actual  surface  is  injured.  It  seems  to 
have  been  eaten  away,  just  as  iron  is  eaten  by  rust.  A  few 
patches  adhere,  however,  in  places,  and  retain  the  original 
coloring.  The  river  is  still  covered  with  blue  and  white 
zigzags,  to  represents  water;  some  of  the  fighting  groups 
are  yet  perfect;  and  two  very  beautiful  royal  chariots,  one 
of  which  is  surmounted  by  a  richly  ornamented  parasol- 
canopy,  are  fresh  and  brilliant  as  ever. 

The  horses  throughout  are  excellent.  The  chariot  frieze 
is  almst  Panathenaic  in  its  effect  of  multitudinous  move- 
ment ;  while  the  horses  in  the  camp  of  Rameses,  for  natu- 
ralness and  variety  of  treatment,  are  perhaps  the  best  that 
Egyptian  art  has  to  show.  It  is  worth  noting,  also,  that 
a  horseman,  that  vara  avis,  occurs  some  four  or  five  times 
in  different  parts  of  the  picture. 

The  scene  of  the  campaign  is  laid  in  Syria.  The  river 
of  blue  and  white  zigzags  is  the  Orontes  ;*  the  city  of  the 
beseiged  Kadesh  or  Kades  ;f  the  enemy  are  the  Kheta. 
The  whole  is,  in  fact,  a  grand  picture-epic  of  the  events 
immortalized  in  the  poem  of  Pentaur — that  poem  which 
M.  de  Rouge  has  described  as  "a  sort  of  Egyption  Iliad." 
The  comparison  would,  however,  apply  to  the  picture 
with  greater  force  than  it  applies  to  the  poem.  Pentaur, 
who  was  in  the  first  place  a  courtier  and  in  the  second 
place  a  poet,  has  sacrificed  everything  to  the  prominence 
of  his  central  figure.  He  is  intent  upon  the  glorification 
of  the  king  ;  and  his  poem,  which  is  a  mere  pa?an  of 
praise,  begins  and  ends  with  the  prowess  of  Rameses  Mer- 
Amen.     If,  then,  it  is  to  be  called  an  Iliad,  it  is  an  Iliad 

*  In  Egyptian,  Aaranatu. 

f  In  Egyptian,  Kateshu.  "Aujourdbui  encore  11  existe  une  ville 
de  Kades  pres  d'une  courbe  de  POronte  dans  le  voisinage  de  Horns." 
Lecons  de  M.  de  Rouge,  Professhsau  College  de  France.  See  "Me- 
langes d'Arcbeologie,"  Egyp.  and  Assyr.,  vol.  ii,  p.  269.  Also  a 
valuable  paper,  entitled  "  Tbe  Campaign  of  Rameses  II  Against 
Kadesb,"  by  tbe  Rev.  G.  H.  Tomkins,  "Trans,  of  tbe  Soc.  of  Bib. 
Arcb.,  vol.  viii,  part  3,  1882.  Tbe  bend  of  tbe  river  is  actually  given 
in  tbe  bas-reliefs. 


ABO U  SIMBEL.  275 

from  which  everything  that  does  not  immediately  concern 
Archilles  is  left  out.  The  picture,  on  the  contrary, 
though  it  shows  the  hero  in  combat  and  in  triumph,  and 
always  of  colossal  proportions,  yet  has  space  for  a  host  of 
minor  characters.  The  episodes  in  which  these  characters 
appear  are  essentially  Homeric.  The  spy  is  surprised  and 
slain,  as  Dolon  was  slain  by  Ulysses.  The  men  feast,  and 
fight,  and  are  wounded,  just  like  the  long-haired  sons  of 
Achaia ;  -while  their  horses,  loosed  from  the  yoke,  eat 
white  barley  and  oats: 

"Hard  by  their  chariots,  waiting  for  the  dawn." 

Like  Homer,  too,  the  artist  of  the  battle-piece  is  careful 
to  point  out  the  distinguishing  traits  of  the  various  com- 
batants. The  Khetas  go  three  in  a  chariot ;  the  -Egyp- 
tians only  two.  The  Khetas  wear  a  mustache  and  scalp- 
lock;  the  Egyptians  pride  themselves  on  "a  clean  shave/' 
and  cover  their  bare  heads  with  ponderous  wigs.  The 
Sardinian  contingent  cultivate  their  own  thick  hair, 
whiskers  and  mustachios;  and  their  features  are  dis- 
tinctly European.  They  also  wear  the  curious  helmet  sur- 
mounted by  a  ball  and  two  spikes,  by  which  they  may  al- 
ways be  recognized  in  the  sculptures.  These  Sardinians 
appear  only  in  the  border-frieze,  next  the  floor.  The  sand 
had  drifted  up  just  at  that  spot  and  only  the  top  of  one 
fantastic  helmet  was  visible  above  the  surface.  Not  know- 
ing in  the  least  to  what  this  might  belong,  we  set  the  men 
to  scrape  away  the  sand  ;  and  so,  quite  by  accident, 
uncovered  the  most  curious  and  interesting  group  in  the 
whole  picture.     The  Sardinians*  (in  Egyptian  Shardana), 

*"  La  legion  S'a/rdana  de  l'armee  de  Ramses  II  provenait  d'une 
premiere  descente  de  ces  peuples  en  Egypte.  'Les  S'ardana  qui 
etaient  des  prisonniers  de  sa  majeste,'  dit  expressement  le  teste  de 
Karnak,  au  commencement  du  poeme  de  Pentaur.  Les  archeologues 
ont  remarque  la  richesse  de  leur  costume  et  de  leurs  armures.  Les 
principales  pieces  de  leur  veteruents  seuiblent  couvertes  de  broderies. 
Lear  bouchier  est  une  rondache:  ils  portent  une  longue  et  large  epee 
de  forme  ordinaire,  mais  on  remarque  aussi  dans  leurs  mains  une 
epee  d'une  longueur  demesuree.  Le  casque  des  S'ardana  est  tres 
caracterisque;  sa  forme  est  arrondie,  mais  il  est  surmonte  d'une  tige 
qui  supporte  une  boule  de  metal.  Cet  ornament  est  accompagne  de 
deux  cornes  en  forme  de  croissant.  .  .  .  Les  S'ardana  de  l'armee 
Egyptienne  ont  seulement  des  favoris  et  des  moustaches  coupes  tres 
courts."—"  Memoire  sur  les  Attaques  Dirigees  centre  l'Egypte,"  etc, 
E.  de  Rouge.     "Revue  Archeologique,"  vol.  xvi,  pp.  90,  91. 


276  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

seem  to  have  been  naturalized  prisoners  of  war  drafted 
into  the  ranks  of  the  Egyptian  army;  and  are  the  first 
European  people  whose  names  appear  on  the  monuments. 
There  is  but  one  hour  in  the  twenty-four  at  which  it  is 
possible  to  form  any  idea  of  the  general  effect  of  this  vast 
subject;  and  that  is  at  sunrise.  Then  only  does  the  pure 
day  stream  in  through  the  doorway  and  temper  the  gloom 
of  the  side-aisles  with  light  reflected  from  the  sunlit  floor. 
The  broad  divisions  of  the  picture  and  the  distribution  of 
the  masses  may  then  be  dimly  seen.  The  details,  however, 
require  candle-light  and  can  only  be  studied  a  few  inches 
at  a  time.  Even  so,  it  is  difficult  to  make  out  the  upper 
groups  without  the  help  of  a  ladder.  Salame,  mounted  on 
a  chair  and  provided  with  two  long  sticks  lashed  together, 
could  barely  hold  his  little  torch  high  enough  to  enable  the 
writer  to  copy  the  inscription  on  the  middle  tower  of  the 
fortress  of  Kadesh. 

It  is  fine  to  see  the  sunrise  on  the  front  of  the  great 
temple;  but  something  still  finer  takes  place  on  certain 
mornings  of  the  year,  in  the  very  heart  of  the  mountain. 
As  the  sun  comes  up  above  the  eastern  hill-tops,  one  long, 
level,  beam  strikes  through  the  doorway,  pierces  the  inner 
darkness  like  an  arrow,  penetrates  to  the  sanctuary  and 
falls  like  fire  from  heaven  upon  the  altar  at  the  feet  of 
the  gods. 

No  one  who  has  watched  for  the  coming  of  that  shaft 
of  sunlight  can  doubt  that  it  was  a  calculated  effect  and 
that  the  excavation  was  directed  at  one  especial  angle  in 
order  to  produce  it.  In  this  way  Ra,  to  whom  the  temple 
was  dedicated,  may  be  said  to  have  entered  in  daily  and  by 
a  direct  manifestation  of  his  presence  to  have  approved  the 
sacrifices  of  his  worshipers. 

I  need  scarcely  say  that  we  did  not  see  half  the  wall- 
sculptures  or  even  half  the  chambers  that  first  afternoon 
at  Abou  Simbel.  We  rambled  to  and  fro,  lost  in  wonder 
and  content  to  wonder,  like  rustics  at  a  fair.  We  had, 
however,  ample  time  to  come  again  and  again,  and  learn 
it  all  by  heart.  The  writer  went  in  constantly  and  at  all 
hours;  "but  most  frequently  at  the  end  of  the  day's  sketch- 
ing, when  the  rest  were  walking  or  boating  in  the  cool  of 
the  late  afternoon. 

It  is  a  wonderful  place  to  be  alone  in — a  place  in  which 
the  verv  darkness  and  silence  are  old  and  in  which  time 


ABO  U  SIMBEL.  277 

himself  seems  to  have  fallen  asleep.  Wandering  to  and 
fro  among  these  sculptured  halls,  like  a  shade  among 
shadows,  one  seems  to  have  left  the  world  behind;  to  have 
done  with  the  teachings  of  the  piesent;  to  belong  one's 
self  to  the  past.  The  very  gods  assert  their  ancient  influ- 
ence over  those  who  question  them  in  solitude.  Seen  in 
the  fast-deepening  gloom  of  evening,  they  look  instinct 
with  supernatural  life.  There  were  times  when  I  should 
scarcely  have  been  surprised  to  hear  them  speak — to  see 
them  rise  from  their  painted  thrones  and  come  down  from 
the  walls.  There  were  times  when  I  felt  I  believed  in 
them. 

There  was  something  so  weird  and  awful  about  the 
place,  and  it  became  so  much  more  weird  and  awful  the 
farther  one  went  in,  that  I  rarely  ventured  beyond  the 
first  hall  when  quite  alone.  One  afternoon,  however, 
when  it  was  a  little  earlier,  and  therefore  a  little  lighter 
than  usual,  I  went  to  the  very  end  and  sat  at  the  feet  of 
the  gods  in  the  sanctuary.  All  at  once  (I  cannot  tell 
why,  for  my  thoughts  just  then  were  far  away)  it  flashed 
upon  me  that  a  whole  mountain  hung — ready,  perhaps, 
to  cave  in  —  above  my  head.  Seized  by  a  sudden 
panic  such  as  one  feels  in  dreams,  I  tried  to  run;  but  my 
feet  dragged  and  the  floor  seemed  to  sink  under  them.  I 
felt  I  could  not  have  called  for  help,  though  it  had  been  to 
save  my  life.  It  is  unnecessary,  perhaps,  to  add  that  the 
mountain  did  not  cave  in,  and  that  I  had  my  fright  for 
nothing.  It  would  have  been  a  grand  way  of  dying,  all 
the  same;  and  a  still  grander  way  of  being  buried.  My 
visits  to  the  great  temple  were  not  always  so  dramatic. 
I  sometimes  took  Salame,  who  smoked  cigarettes  when  not 
on  active  duty,  or  held  a  candle  while  I  sketched  patterns 
of  cornices,  head-dresses  of  kings  and  gods,  designs  of 
necklaces  and  bracelets,  heads  of  captives,  and  the  like. 
Sometimes  we  explored  the  side-chambers.  Of  these  there 
are  eight;  pitch-dark,  and  excavated  at  all  kinds  of  angles. 
Two  or  three  are  surrounded  by  stone  benches  cut  in  the 
rock;  and  in  one  the  hieroglyphic  inscriptions  are  part  cut, 
part  sketched  in  black  and  left  unfinished.  As  this  temple 
is  entirely  the  work  of  Rameses  II,  and  betrays  no  sign 
of  having  been  added  to  by  any  of  his  successors,  these 
evidences  of  incompleteness  would  seem  to  show  that  the 
king  died  before  the  work  was  ended. 


£78  A  THOUSAND  MIL  EH  UP  THE  NILE. 

I  was  always  under  the  impression  that  there  were  secret 
places  yet  undiscovered  in  these  dark  chambers,  and 
Salame  and  I  were  always  looking  for  them.  At  Denderah, 
at  Ed  fit,  at  Medinet  Habu,  at  Philse,*  there  have  been 
found  crypts  in  the  thickness  of  the  walls  and  recesses 
under  the  pavements,  for  the  safe-keeping  of  treasure  in 
time  of  danger.  The  rock-cut  temples  must  also  have  had 
their  hiding-places;  and  these  would  doubtless  take  the 
form  of  concealed  cells  in  the  walls,  or  under  the  floors  of 
the  side-chambers. 

To  come  out  from  these  black  holes  into  the  twilight  of 
the  great  hall  and  see  the  landscape  set,  as  it  were,  in  the 
ebon  frame  of  the  doorway,  was  alone  worth  the  journey  to 
Abou  Simbel.  The  sun  being  at  such  times  in  the  west, 
the  river,  the  yellow  sand-island,  the  palms  and  tamarisks 
opposite,  and  the  mountains  of  the  eastern  desert,  were  all 
Hooded  with  a  glory  of  light  and  color  to  which  no  pen  or 
pencil  could  possibly  do  justice.  Not  even  the  mountains 
of  Moab  in  Hoi  man  Hunt's  '  'Scapegoat "  were  so  warm 
with  rose  and  gold. 

Thus  our  days  passed  at  Abou  Simbel;  the  workers  work- 
ing; the  idler  idling;  strangers  from  the  outer  world  now 
and  then  coming  and  going.  The  heat  on  shore  was  great, 
especially  in  the  sketching-tents  ;  but  the  north  breeze 
blew  steadily  every  day  from  about  an  hour  after  sunrise 
till  an  hour  before  sunset,  and  on  board  the  dahabeeyah  it 
was  always  cool. 

The  happy  couple  took  advantage  of  this  good  wind  to 
do  a  good  deal  of  boating,  and  by  judiciously  timing  their 
excursions  contrived  to  use  the  tail  of  the  day's  breeze  for 
their  trip  out,  and  the  strong  arms  of  four  good  rowers  to 
bring  them  back  again.  In  this  way  they  managed  to  see 
the  little  rock-cut  temple  of  Ferayg,  which  the  rest  of  us 
unfortunately  missed.  On  another  occasion  they  paid  a 
visit  to  a  certain  sheik  who  lived  at  a  village  about  two 
miles  south  of  Abou  Simbel.  He  was  a  great  man,  as 
Nubian  magnates  go.  His  name  was  Hassan  Ebn  Rash- 
wan  el  Kashef,  and  he  was  a  grandson  of  that  same  old 
Hassan  Kashef  who  was  vice-regent  of  Nubia  in   the  days 

*  A  rich  treasure  of  gold  and  silver  rings  was  found  by  Ferlini,  in 
1834,  immured  in  the  wall  of  one  of  the  pyramids  of  Meroe,  in 
Upper  Nubia.  See  Lepsius'  Litters,  translated  by  L.  and  J.  Horner, 
Bonn,  1853,  p   151. 


ABOU  SI  MB  EL.  279 

of  Burckhardt  and  Belzoni.  He  received  our  happy  couple 
with  distinguished  hospitality,  killed  a  sheep  in  their 
honor,  and  entertained  them  for  more  than  three  hours. 
The  meal  consisted  of  an  endless  succession  of  dishes,  all 
of  which,  like  that  bugbear  of  our  childhood,  the  hated  air 
with  variations, -went  on  repeating  the  same  theme  under  a 
multitude  of  disguises;  and,  whether  roasted,  boiled,  stewed 
or  minced,  served  on  skewers,  smothered  in  rice,  or 
drowned  in  sour  milk,  were  always  mutton  au  fond. 

We  now  despaired  of  ever  seeing  a  crocodile;  and  but 
for  a  trail  that  our  men  discovered  on  the  island  opposite, 
we  should  almost  have  ceased  to  believe  that  there  were 
crocodiles  in  Egypt.  The  marks  were  quite  fresh  when  we 
went  to  look  at  them.  The  creature  had  been  basking 
high  and  dry  in  the  sun,  and  this  was  the  point  at  which 
he  had  gone  down  again  to  the  river.  The  damp  sand  at 
the  water's  edge  had  taken  the  mold  of  his  huge  fleshy 
paws,  and  even  of  the  jointed  armor  of  his  tail,  though 
this  last  impression  was  somewhat  blurred  by  the  final  rush 
with  which  he  had  taken  to  the  water.  I  doubt  if  Robin- 
son Crusoe,  when  he  saw  the  famous  footprint  on  the 
shore,  was  more  excited  than  we  of  the  Philaj  at  sight  of 
this  genuine  and  undeniable  trail. 

As  for  the  idle  man,  he  flew  at  once  to  arms  and  made 
ready  for  the  fray.  He  caused  a  shallow  grave  to  be  dug 
for  himself  a  few  yards  from  the  spot;  then  went  and  lay 
in  it  for  hours  together,  morning  after  morning,  under  the 
full  blaze  of  the  sun — flat,  patient,  alert — with  his  gun 
ready  cocked,  and  a  Pall  Mall  Budget  up  his  back.  It  was 
not  his  fault  if  he  narrowly  escaped  sunstroke  and  had  his 
iabor  for  his  reward.  That  crocodile  was  too  clever  for 
him  and  took  care  never  to  come  back. 

Our  sailors,  meanwhile,  though  well  pleased  with  an 
occasional  holiday,  began  to  find  Abou  Simbel  monoto- 
nous. As  long  as  the  Bagstones  stayed,  the  two  crews  met 
every  evening  to  smoke,  and  dance,  and  sing  their  quaint 
roundelays  together.  But  when  rumors  came  of  wonder- 
ful things  already  done  this  winter  above  Wady  Halfeh — 
rumors  that  represented  the  second  cataract  as  a  populous 
solitude  of  crocodiles — then  our  faithful  consort  slipped 
away  one  morning  before  sunrise  and  the  Philse  was  left 
compauionless. 

At  this  juncture,  seeing  that  the  men's  time  hung  heavy 


280  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

on  their  hands,  our  painter  conceived  the  idea  of  setting 
them  to  clean  the  face  of  the  northernmost  colossus,  still 
disfigured  by  the  plaster  left  on  it  when  the  great  cast  * 
was  taken  by  Mr.  Hay  more  than  half  a  century  before. 
This  happy  thought  was  promptly  carried  into  effect.  A 
scaffolding  of  spars  and  oars  was  at  once  improvised,  and 
the  men,  delighted  as  children  at  play,  were  soon  swarm- 
ing all  over  the  huge  head,  just  as  the  carvers  may  have 
swarmed  over  it  in  the  days  when  Rameses  was  king. 

All  they  had  to  do  was  to  remove  any  small  lumps  that 
might  yet  adhere  to  the  surface,  and  then  tint  the  white 
patches  with  coffee.  This  they  did  with  bits  of  sponge 
tied  to  the  ends  of  sticks ;  but  Rei's  Hassan,  as  a  mark  of 
dignity,  had  one  of  the  painter's  old  brushes,  of  which  he 
was  immensely  proud. 

It  took  them  three  afternoons  to  complete  the  job;  and 
we  were  all  sorry  when  it  came  to  an  end.  To  see  Rei's 
Hassan  artistically  touching  up  a  gigantic  nose  almost  as 
long  as  himself ;  Riskalli  and  the  cook-boy  staggering  to 
and  fro  with  relays  of  coffee,  brewed  "thick  and  slab"  for 
the  purpose  ;  Salame  perched  cross-legged,  like  some  com- 
placent imp,  on  the  towering  rim  of  the  great  pschent 
overhead;  the  rest  chattering  and  skipping  about  the  scaf- 
folding like  monkeys,  was,  I  will  venture  to  say,  a  sight  more 

*  This  cast,  the  property  of  the  British  Museum,  is  placed  over  a 
door  leading  to  the  library  at  the  end  of  the  northern  vestibule, 
opposite  the  staircase.  I  was  informed  by  the  late  Mr.  Bonomi  that  the 
mold  was  made  by  Mr.  Hay,  who  had  with  him  an  Italian  assistant 
picked  up  in  Cairo.  They  took  with  them  some  barrels  of  plaster 
and  a  couple  of  ladders,  and  contrived,  with  such  spars  and  poles  as 
belonged  tothedahabeeyah,  to  erect  a  scaffolding  and  a  matted  shelter 
for  the  plasterman.  The  colossus  was  at  this  time  buried  up  to  its  chin 
in  sand,  which  made  the  task  so  much  the  easier.  When  the  mold 
of  the  head  was  brought  to  England,  it  was  sent  to  Mr.  Bonomi's 
studio,  together  with  a  mold  of  the  head  of  the  colossus  at  Mitra- 
henny,  a  mold  of  the  apex  of  the  fallen  obelisk  at  Karnak,  and 
molds  of  the  wall-sculptures  at  Bayt-et-Welly.  Mr.  Bonomi  super- 
intended the  casting  and  placing  of  all  these  in  the  museum  about 
three  years  after  the  molds  were  made.  This  was  at  the  time  when 
Mr.  Hawkins  held  the  post  of  keeper  of  antiquities.  I  mention 
these  details,  not  simply  because  they  have  a  special  interest  for 
all  who  are  acquainted  with  Abou  Simbel,  but  because  a  good  deal 
of  misapprehension  has  prevailed  on  the  subject,  some  travelers 
attributing  the  disfigurement  of  the  head  to  Lepsius,  others  to  the 
Crystal  Palace  Company,  and  so  forth.  Even  so  careful  a  writer  as 
the  late  Miss  Martineau  ascribes  it,  on  hearsay,  to  Champollion. 


ABO  U  81MB EL.  281 

comic  than  has  ever  been  seen  at  Abou  Simbel  before  or 
since. 

Rameses'  appetite  for  coffee  was  prodigious.  He  con- 
sumed I  know  not  how  many  gallons  a  day.  Our  cook 
stood  aghast  at  the  demand  made  upon  Ins  stores.  Never 
before  had  he  been  called  upon  to  provide  for  a  guest 
whose  mouth  measured  three  feet  and  a  half  in  width. 

Still,  the  result  justified  the  expenditure.  The  coffee 
proved  a  capital  match  for  the  sandstone  ;  and  though  it 
was  not  possible  wholly  to  restore  the  uniformity  of  the 
original  surface,  we  at  least  succeeded  in  obliterating  those 
ghastly  splotches,  which  for  so  many  years  have  marred 
this  beautiful  face  as  with  the  unsightliness  of  leprosy. 

What  with  boating,  fishing,  lying  in  wait  for  crocodiles, 
cleaning  the  colossus,  and  filling  reams  of  thin  letter 
paper  to  friends  at  home,  we  got  through  the  first  week 
quickly  enough — the  painter  and  the  writer  working  hard,, 
meanwhile,  in  their  respective  ways;  the  painter  on  his  big 
canvas  in  front  of  the  temple;  the  writer  shifting  her  little 
tent  as  she  listed. 

Now,  although  the  most  delightful  occupation  in  life  is 
undoubtedly  sketching,  it  must  be  admitted  that  the 
sketcher  at  Abou  Simbel  works  under  difficulties.  Fore- 
most among  these  comes  the  difficulty  of  position.  The 
great  temple  stands  within  about  twenty-five  yards  of  the 
brink  of  the  bank,  and  the  lesser  temple  within  as  many 
feet;  so  that  to  get  far  enough  from  one's  subject  is  simply 
impossible.  The  present  writer  sketched  the  small  temple 
from  the  deck  of  the  dahabeeyah  ;  there  being  no  point  of 
view  obtainable  on  shore. 

Next  comes  the  difficulty  of  color.  Everything,  except 
the  sky  and  the  river,  is  yellow  —  yellow,  that  is  to  say, 
"  with  a  difference";  yellow  ranging  through  every  grada- 
tion of  orange,  maize,  apricot,  gold  and  buff.  The  mount- 
ains are  sandstone  ;  the  temples  are  sandstone;  the  sand- 
slope  is  powdered  sandstone  from  the  sandstone  desert. 
In  all  these  objects,  the  scale  of  color  is  necessarily  the 
same.  Even  the  shadows,  glowing  with  reflected  light, 
give  back  tempered  repetitions  of  the  dominant  hue. 
Hence  it  follows  that  he  who  strives,  however  humbly,  to 
reproduce  the  facts  of  the  scene  before  him,  is  compelled, 
Ion  gre,  mat  gre,  to  execute  what  some  of  our  young 
painters  would  nowadays  call  a  symphony  in  yellow. 


282  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Lastly,  there  are  the  minor  inconveniences  of  sun,  sand, 
wind,  and  Hies.  The  whole  place  radiates  heat,  and  seems 
almost  to  radiate  light.  The  glare  from  above  and  the 
glare  from  below  are  alike  intolerable.  Dazzled,  blinded, 
unable  to  even  look  at  his  subject  without  the  aid  of  smoke- 
colored  glasses,  the  sketcher  whose  tent  is  pitched  upon 
the  sandslope  over  against  the  great  temple  enjoys  a  fore- 
taste of  cremation. 

When  the  wind  blows  from  the  north  (which  at  this 
time  of  the  year  is  almost  always)  the  heat  is  perhaps  less 
distressing,  but  the  sand  is  maddening.  It  fills  your  hair, 
your  eyes,  your  water-bottles;  silts  up  your  color-box;  dries 
into  your  skies;  and  reduces  your  Chinese  white  to  a  gritty 
paste  the  color  of  salad-dressing.  As  for  the  flies,  they 
have  a  morbid  appetite  for  water-colors.  They  follow 
your  wet  brush  along  the  paper,  leave  their  legs  in  the  yel- 
low ocher,  and  plunge  with  avidity  into  every  little  pool  of 
cobalt  as  it  is  mixed  ready  for  use.  Nothing  disagrees 
with  them;  nothing  poisons  them — not  even  olive-green. 

It  was  a  delightful  time,  however  —  delightful  alike  for 
those  who  worked  and  those  who  rested  —  and  these  small 
troubles  counted  for  nothing  in  the  scale.  Yet  it  was 
pleasant,  all  the  same,  to  break  away  for  a  day  or  two,  and 
be  off  to  Wady  Half  eh. 


THE  SKUOND  CATARACT.  283 


CHAPTER  XVII. 

THE   SECOND    CATARACT. 

A  fresh  breeze,  a  full  sail,  and  the  consciousness  of  a 
holiday  well  earned,  carried  us  gayly  along  from  Abou 
Simbel  to  Wady  Halfeh.  We  started  late  in  the  afternoon 
of  the  first  day,  made  about  twelve  miles  before  the  wind 
dropped,  and  achieved  the  remaining  twenty-eight  miles 
before  noon  the  next  day.  It  was  our  last  trip  on  the  Nile 
under  canvas.  At  Wady  Halfeh  the  Philse  was  doomed  to 
be  dismantled.  The  big  sail  that  had  so  long  been  our 
pride  and  delight  would  there  be  taken  down,  and  our 
good  boat,  her  grace  and  swiftness  gone  at  one  fell  swooji, 
would  become  a  mere  lumbering  barge,  more  suggestive  of 
civic  outings  on  the  Thames  than  of  Cleopatra's  galley. 

For  some  way  beyond  Abou  Simbel,  the  western  bank  is 
fringed  by  a  long  line  of  volcanic  mountains,  as  much 
alike  in  height,  size,  and  shape,  as  a  row  of  martello 
towers.  They  are  divided  from  one  another  by  a  series  of 
perfectly  uniform  sand-drifts;  while  on  the  rounded  top  of 
each  mountain,  thick  as  the  currants  on  the  top  of  a  cer- 
tain cake,  known  to  schoolboys  by  the  endearing  name  of 
"  black-caps,"  lies  a  layer  of  the  oddest  black  stones  in  the 
world.  Having  more  than  once  been  to  the  top  of  the 
rock  of  Abshek  (which  is  the  first  large  mountain  of  the 
chain,  and  strewn  in  the  same  way)  we  recognized  the 
stones,  and  knew  what  they  were  like.  In  color  they  are 
purplish  black,  tinged  here  and  there  with  dull  red.  They 
ring  like  clinkstone  when  struck,  and  in  shape  are  most 

fantastic.     L picked  up  some  like  petrified  bunches  of 

grapes.  Others  are  twisted  and  writhen  like  the  Vesuvian 
lava  of  1871.  They  lie  loose  upon  the  surface,  and  are  of 
all  sizes;  some  being  as  small  as  currants,  and  others  as 
large  as  quartern  loaves.  Speaking  as  one  having  no  kind 
of  authority,  I  should  say  that  these  stones  are  unquestion- 
ably of  fiery  parentage.     One  seems  to  see  how,   boiling 


284  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

and  bubbling  in  a  state  of  fusion,  they  must  have  been 
suddenly  checked  by  contact  with  some  cooler  medium. 

Where  the  chain  ends,  about  three  or  four  miles  above 
Abou  Simbel,  the  view  widens,  and  a  host  of  outlying 
mountains  are  seen  scattered  over  an  immense  plain  reach- 
ing for  miles  into  the  western  desert.  On  the  eastern 
bank,  Kalat  Adda,*  a  huge,  rambling  Roman  citadel, 
going  to  solitary  ruin  on  the  last  water- washed  precipice 
to  the  left — brings  the  opposite  range  to  a  like  end,  and 
abuts  on  a  similar  plain,  also  scattered  over  with  detached 
peaks.  The  scene  here  is  desolately  magnificent.  A  large 
island  covered  with  palms  divides  the  Nile  in  two  branches, 
each  of  which  looks  as  wide  as  the  whole  river.  An  un- 
bounded distance  opens  away  to  the  silvery  horizon.  On 
the  banks  there  is  no  vendure;  neither  is  there  any  sign  of 
human  toil.  Nothing  lives,  nothing  moves,  save  the  wind 
and  the  river. 

Of  all  the  strange  peaks  we  have  yet  seen,  the  mountains 
hereabout  are  the  strangest.  Alone  or  in  groups,  they  start 

*"  A  castle,  resembling  in  size  and  form  that  of  Ibrim;  it  bears 
the  name  of  Kalat  Adda;  it  has  been  abandoned  many  years,  being 
entirely  surrounded  by  barren  rocks.  Part  of  its  ancient  wall, 
similar  in  construction  to  that  of  Ibrim,  still  remains.  The  habita- 
tions are  built  partly  of  stone  and  partly  of  brick.  On  the  most 
elevated  spot  in  the  small  town,  eight  or  ten  gray  granite  columns  of 
small  dimensions  lie  on  the  ground,  with  a  few  capitals  near  tbem 
of  clumsy  Greek  architecture." — Burckhardt's  "Travels  in  Nubia," 
1819,  p.  38. 

In  a  curious  Arabic  history  of  Nubia  written  in  the  tenth  century 
a.  d.  by  one  Abdallah  Ben  Ahmed  Ben  Solaim  of  Assuan,  fragments 
of  which  are  preserved  in  the  great  work  of  Makrizy,  quoted  by 
Burckhardt  and  E.  Quatremere  (see  foot  note,  p.  202),  there  occurs 
the  following  remarkable  passage:  "  In  this  province  (Nubia)  is 
situated  the  city  of  Bedjrasch,  capital  of  Maris,  the  fortress  of  Ibrim, 
and  another  place  called  Adwa,  which  has  a  port,  and  is,  they  say, 
the  birthplace  of  the  sage  Lokman  and  of  Dhoul  Noun.  There  is  to 
be  seen  there  a  magnificent  Birbeh"  ("On^y  voit  an  Berba  mag- 
nifique.") — "  Memoires  (ieographiques  sur  l'Egypte,"  etc.  E  Quatre- 
mere, Paris,  1811;  vol.  ii,  p.  8. 

If  Adwa  and  Adda  are  one  and  the  same,  it  is  possible  that  in  this 
passage  we  find  preserved  the  only  comparatively  modern  indication 
of  some  great  rock-cut  temple,  the  entrance  to  which  is  now  entirely 
covered  by  the  sand.  It  is  clear  tbat  neither  Abou  Simbel  (which  is 
on  the  opposite  bank,  and  some  three  or  four  miles  north  of  Adda) 
nor  Ferayg  (which  is  also  some  way  off,  and  quite  a  small  place)  can 
here  be  intended.  That  another  temple  exists  somewhere  between 
Abou  Simbel  and  Wady  Halfeh,  and  is  yet  to  be  discovered,  seems 
absolutely  certain  from  the  tenor  of  a  large  stela  sculptured  on  the 


THE  SECOND  CATARACT.  285 

up  here  and  there  from  the  desert,  on  both  sides,  like  the 
pieces  on  a  chess-board.  They  are  for  the  most  part  conical; 
but  they  are  not  extinct  craters,  such  as  are  the  volcanic 
cones  of  Korosko  and  Dakkeh.  Seeing  how  they 
all  rose  to  about  the  same  height  and  were  alike  capped 
with  that  mysterious  couche  of  shining  black  stones,  the 
writer  could  not  help  fancying  that,  like  the  isolated  Rocher 
de  Corneille  and  Rocher  de  St.  Michael  at  Puy,  they  might 
be  but  fragments  of  a  rocky  crust,  rent  and  swept  away  at 
some  infinitely  remote  period  of  the  world's  history,  and 
that  the  level  of  their  present  summits  might  represent 
perhaps  the  ancient  level  of  the  plain. 

As  regards  form,  they  are  weird  enough  for  the  wildest 
geological  theories.  All  taper  more  or  less  toward  the  top. 
One  is  four-sided,  like  a  pyramid;  another,  in  shape  a 
truncated  cone,  looks  as  if  crowned  with  a  pagoda  summer- 
house;  a  third  seems  to  be  surmounted  by  a  mosque  and 
cupola;  a  fourth  is  scooped  out  in  tiers  of  arches;  a  fifth  is 
crowned,  apparently,  with  a  cairn  of  piled  stones;  and  so 
on,  with  variations  as  endless  as  they  are  fantastic.  A 
geologist  might  perhaps  account  for  these  caprices  by  show- 
ing how  fire  and  earthquake  and  deluge  had  here  succeeded 

rock  a  few  paces  north  of  the  smallei*  temple  at  Aboa  Simbel.  This 
stela,  which  is  one  of  the  most  striking  and  elaborate  tbere,  repre- 
sents an  Egyptian  gateway  surmounted  by  the  winged  globe,  and 
shows  Rameses  II  enthroned  and  receiving  the  homage  of  a  certain 
prince  whose  name,  as  translated  by  Rosellini,  is  Rameses-Neniscti- 
Habai.  The  inscription,  which  is  in  sixteen  columns  and  perfectly 
preserved,  records  the  titles  and  praises  of  the  king,  and  states  how 
"he  had  made  a  monumental  abode  for  Horus,  his  father,  Lord  of 
Ha'm,  excavating  in  the  bowels  of  the  Rock  of  Ha'm  to  make  him  a 
habitation  of  many  ages."  We  know  nothing  of  the  Rock  of  Ha'm 
(rendered  Sciam  by  Rosellini),  but  it  should  no  doubt  be  sought  some- 
where between  Abou  Simbel  and  Wady  Half  eh.  "  Qual  sito  pre- 
cisamente  dinotisi  in  questo  nome  di  Sciam,  io  non  saprei  nel  presente 
stato  delle  cose  determinare:  credo  peraltro  secondo  varie  loughi 
delle  iscrizioni  che  lo  ricordano,  che  fosse  situato  sull'  una  o  l'altra 
sponda  del  Nilo,  nel  paese  compreso  tra  Wadi-halfa  e  Ibsambul,  o 
poco  oltre.  E  qui  dovrebbe  trovarsi  il  nominalo  speco  di  Horus,  fino 
al  presente  occulto  a  noi."— Rosellini  Letterpress  to  "  Monumenti 
Storici,"  vol.  iii,  part  ii,  p.  184.  It  would  hence  appear  that  the  Rock 
of  Ha'm  is  mentioned  in  other  inscriptions. 

The  distance  between  Abou  Simbel  and  Wady  Half  eh  is  only  forty 
miles,  and  the  likely  places  along  the  banks  are  but  few.  Would 
not  the  discovery  of  this  lost  temple  be  an  enterprise  worthier  the 
ambition  of  tourists,  than  the  extermination  of  such  few  crocodiles 
as  yet  linger  north  of  the  second  contract? 


286  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

each  other;  and  how,  after  heing  first  covered  with  vol- 
canic stones  and  then  split  into  chasms,  the  valleys  thus 
opened  had  by  and  by  been  traversed  by  torrents  which 
wore  away  the  softer  parts  of  the  rock  and  left  the  harder 
standing. 

Some  way  beyond  Kalat  Adda,  when  the  Abou  Simbel 
range  and  palm  island  have  all  but  vanished  in  the  dis- 
tance and  the  lonely  peak  called  the  Mountain  of  the  Sun 
(Gebel  esh-Shems),  has  been  left  far  behind,  we  came 
upon  a  new  wonder — namely:  upon  two  groups  of  scattered 
tumuli,  one  on  the  eastern,  one  on  the  western  bank.  Not 
volcanic  forms  these;  not  even  accidental  forms,  if  one  may 
venture  to  form  an  opinion  from  so  far  off.  They  are  of 
various  sizes;  some  little,  some  big;  all  perfectly  round 
and  smooth  and  covered  with  a  rich,  greenish-brown  allu- 
vial soil.  How  did  they  come  there?  Who  made  them? 
What  did  they  contain?  The  Roman  ruin  close  by — the 
two  hundred  and  forty  thousand*  deserters  who  must  have 
passed  this  way — the  Egyptian  and  Ethiopian  armies  that 
certainly  poured  their  thousands  along  these  very  banks,  and 
might  have  fought  many  a  battle  on  this  open  plain,  suggest 
all  kinds  of  possibilities  and  rill  one's  head  with  visions  of 
buried  arms  and  jewels  and  cinerary  urns.  We  are  more 
than  half-minded  to  stop  the  boat  and  land  that  very 
moment;  but  are  content  on  second  thoughts  with  promis- 
ing ourselves  that  we  will  at  least  excavate  one  of  the 
smaller  hillocks  on  our  way  back. 

And  now,  the  breeze  freshening  and  the  dahabeeyah 
tearing  gallantly  along,  we  leave  the  tumuli  behind,  and 
enter  upon  a  more  desolate  region,  where  the  mountains 
recede  farther  than  ever  and  the  course  of  the  river  is  inter- 
rupted by  perpetual  sand-banks. 

On  one  of  these  sand-banks,  just  a  few  yards  above  the 
edge  of  the  water,  lay  a  log  of  drift-wood,  apparently  a 
battered  old  palm  trunk,  with  some  remnants  of  broken 
branches  yet  clinging  to  it;  such  an  object,  in  short,  as  my 
American  friends  would  very  properly  call  a  "snag." 

Our  pilot  leaned  forward  on  the  tiller,  put  his  finger  to 
his  lip  and  whispered: 

"Crocodilo!" 

The  painter,  the  idle  man,  the  writer,  were  all  on  deck, 

*See  foot  note  page  265. 


THE  SECOND  CATARACT.  287 

and  not  one  believed  him.  They  had  seen  too  many  of 
these  snags  already  and  were  not  going  to  let  themselves 
again  be  excited  about  nothing. 

The  pilot  pointed  to  the  cabin  where  L and  the  little 

lady  were  indulging  in  that  minor  vice  called  afternoon 
tea. 

"Sitteh  !"  said  he,  "call  sitteh!     Crocodilo  !" 

We  examined  the  object  through  our  glasses.  We 
laughed  the  pilot  to  scorn.  It  was  the  worst  imitation  of 
a  crocodile  that  we  had  yet  seen. 

All  at  once  the  palm-trunk  lifted  up  its  head,  cocked  its 
tail,  found  its  legs,  set  off  running,  wriggling,  undulating 
down  the  slope  with  incredible  rapidity  and  was  gone 
before  we  could  utter  an  exclamation. 

We  three  had  a  bad  time  when  the  other  two  came  up 
and  found  that  we  had  seen  our  first  crocodile  without 
them. 

A  sand-bank  which  we  passed  next  morning  was  scored 
all  over  with  fresh  trails  and  looked  as  if  it  had  been  the 
scene  of  a  crocodile-parliament.  There  must  have  been  at 
least  twenty  or  thirty  members  present  at  the  sitting;  and 
the  freshness  of  the  marks  showed  that  they  had  only  just 
dispersed. 

A  keen  and  cutting  wind  carried  us  along  the  last 
thirty  miles  of  our  journey.  We  had  supposed  that  the 
farther  south  we  penetrated  the  hotter  we  should  find  the 
climate;  yet  now,  strange  to  say,  we  were  shivering  in  seal- 
skins, under  the  most  brilliant  sky  in  the  world  and  in  a 
latitude  more  southerly  than  that  of  Mecca  or  Calcutta. 
It  was  some  compensation,  however,  to  run  at  full  speed 
past  the  dullest  of  Nile  scenery,  seeing  only  sand-banks  in 
the  river;  sand-hills  and  sand-flats  on  either  hand;  a  dis- 
used shaduf  or  a  skeleton-boat  rotting  at  the  water's  edge; 
a  wind-tormented  Dom  palm  struggling  for  existence  on 
the  brink  of  the  bank. 

At  a  fatal  corner  about  six  miles  below  Wady  Halfeh,  we 
passed  a  melancholy  flotilla  of  dismantled  dahabeeyahs — 
the  Fostat,  the  Zenobia,  the  Alice,  the  Mansoorah — all 
alike   weather-bound    and    laid    up    helplessly  against  the 

wind.     The  Mansoorah,  with  Captain  and  Mrs.  E on 

board,  had  been  three  days  doing  these  six  miles;  at  which 
rate  of  progress  they  might  reasonably  hope  to  reach  Cairo 
in  about  a  year  and  a  month. 


288  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

The  palms  of  Wady  Halfeh,  blue  with  distance,  came 
into  sight  at  the  next  bend;  and  by  noon  the  Phils  was 
once  more  moored  alongside  the  Bagstones  under  a  shore 
crowded  with  cangias,  covered  with  bales  and  packing- 
cases  and,  like  the  shores  of  Mahatta  and  Assuan,  popu- 
lous with  temporary  huts.  For  here  it  is  that  traders 
going  by  water  embark  and  disembark  on  their  way  to  and 
fro  between  Dongola  and  the  first  cataract. 

There  were  three  temples — or  at  all  events  three  ancient 
Egyptian  buildings — once  upon  a  time  on  the  western  bank 
over  against  Wady  Halfeh.  Now  there  are  a  few  broken 
pillars,  a  solitary  fragment  of  brick  pylon,  some  remains 
of  a  flight  of  stone  steps  leading  down  to  the  river,  and  a 
wail  of  inclosure  overgrown  with  wild  pumpkins.  These 
ruins,  together  with  a  rambling  native  Khan  and  a  noble 
old  sycamore,  form  a  picturesque  group  backed  by  amber 
sand-cliffs,  and  mark  the  site  of  a  lost  city*  belonging  to 
the  early  days  of  Usurtesen  III. 

The  second,  or  great,  cataract  begins  a  little  way  above 
Wady  Halfeh  and  extends  over  a  distance  of  many  miles. 
It  consists,  like  the  first  cataract,  of  a  succession  of  rocks 
and  rapids,  and  is  skirted  for  the  first  five  miles  or  so  by 
the  sand-cliff  ridge  which,  as  I  have  said,  forms  a  back- 
ground to  the  ruins  just  opposite  Wady  Halfeh.  This 
ridge  terminates  abruptly  in  the  famous  precipice  known 
as  the  Rock  of  Abusir.  Only  adventurous  travelers  bound 
for  Dongola  or  Khartum  go  beyond  this  point;  and  they, 
for  the  most  part,  take  the  shorter  route  across  the  desert 

from  Korosko.     L and  the  writer  would  fain  have  hired 

camels  and  pushed  on  as  far  as  Semneh;  which  is  a  matter 
of  only  two  days'  journey  from  Wady  Halfeh,  and,  for 
people  provided  with  sketching-tents,  is  one  of  the  easiest 
of  inland  excursions. 

One  may  go  to  the  Rock  of  Abusir  by  land  or  by  water. 
The  happy  couple  and  the  writer  took  two  native  boatmen 
versed  in  the  intricacies  of  the  cataract  and  went  in  the 
felucca.   L and  the  painter  preferred  donkeying.   Given 

*  "  Un  second  temple,  plus  grand,  niais  tout  aussi  detruit  que  le 
precedent,  existe  un  peu  plus  au  sud,  e'etait  le  grand  temple  de  la 
villa  Egyptienne  de  Beheni,  qui  exista  sur  cet  emplacement,  et  qui 
d'apres  l'etendu  des  debris  de  poteries  repandus  sur  la  plaine  au- 
jourdhui  deserte,  parait  avoir  ete  assez  grande. " — Champollion, 
Lettres  ecritesd'Egypte,  etc.,  ed.  1868;  Letter  ix. 


THE  SECOND  CATARACT.  289 

a  good  breeze  from  the  right  quarter,  there  is,  as  regards 
time,  but  little  to  choose  between  the  two  routes.  No  one, 
however,  who  has  approached  the  Rock  of  Abusir  by 
water,  and  seen  it  rise  like  a  cathedral  front  from  the  midst 
of  that  labyrinth  of  rocky  islets— some  like  clusters  of 
basaltic  columns,  some  crowned  with  crumbling  ruins, 
some  bleak  and  bare,  some  green  with  wild  pomegranate 
trees — can  doubt  which  is  the  more  picturesque. 

Landing  among  the  tamarisks  at  the  foot  of  the  cliff, 
we  come  to  the  spreading  skirts  of  a  sand-drift  steeper  and 
more  fatiguing  to  climb  than  the  sand-drift  at  Abou  Sim- 
bel.  We  do  climb  it,  however,  though  somewhat  sulk- 
ily, and,  finding  the  donkey-party  perched  upon  the  top, 
are  comforted  with  draughts  of  ice-cold  lemonade,  brought 
in  a  kullah  from  Wady  Ilalfeh. 

The  summit  of  the  rock  is  a  mere  ridge,  steep  and  over- 
hanging toward  east  and  south,  and  carved  all  over  with 
autographs  in  stone.  Some  few  of  these  are  interesting; 
but  for  the  most  part  they  record  only  the  visits  of  the  il- 
lustrious-obscure. We  found  Belzoni's  name;  but  looked 
in  vain  for  the  signatures  of  Burckhardt,  Champollion, 
Lepsius  and  Ampere. 

Owing  to  the  nature  of  the  ground  and  the  singular 
clearness  of  the  atmosphere,  the  view  from  this  point 
seemed  to  be  the  most  extensive  I,  had  ever  looked  upon. 
Yet  the  height  of  the  Rock  of  Abusir  is  comparatively  in- 
significant. It  would  count  but  as  a  mole-hill,  if  measured 
against  some  Alpine  summits  of  my  acquaintance.  I 
doubt  whether  it  is  as  lofty  as  even  the  great  pyramid.  It 
is,  however,  a  giddy  place  to  look  down  from,  and  seems 
higher  than  it  is. 

It  is  hard,  now  that  we  are  actually  here,  to  realize  that 
this  is  the  end  of  our  journey.  The  cataract— an  immense 
multitude  of  black  and  shining  islets,  among  which  the 
river,  divided  into  hundreds  of  separate  channels,  spreads 
far  and  wide  for  a  distance,  it  is  said,  of  more  than  sixteen 
miles— foams  at  our  feet.  Foams,  and  frets,  and  falls  ; 
gushing  smooth  and  strong  where  its  course  is  free  ;  mur- 
muring hoarsely  where  it  is  interrupted;  now  hurrying  ; 
now  loitering;  here  eddying  in  oily  circles;  there  lying  in 
still  pools  unbroken  by  a  ripple  ;  everywhere  full  of  life, 
full  of  voices;  everywhere  shining  to  the  sun.  North- 
ward;, where  it  winds  away  toward  Abou  Simbel,  we  see  all 


290  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  fantastic  mountains  of  yesterday  on  the  horizon.  To  the 
east,still  bounded  byout-liersof  the  same  disconnected  chain, 
lies  a  rolling  waste  of  dark  and  stony  wilderness  trenched  with 
innumerable  valleys  through  which  flow  streams  of  sand.  On 
the  western  side,  the  continuity  of  the  view  is  interrupted  by 
the  ridge  which  ends  with  Abusir.  Southward  the  Libyan 
desert  reaches  away  in  a  vast  undulating  plain;  tawny,  arid 
monotonous  ;  all  sun  ;  all  sand  ;  lit  here  and  there  with 
arrowy  flashes  of  the  Nile.  Farthest  of  all,  pale  but  dis- 
tinct, on  the  outermost  rim  of  the  world,  rise  two  mount- 
ain summits,  one  long,  one  dome-like.  Our  Nubians  tell 
us  that  these  are  the  mountains  of  Dongola.  Comparing 
our  position  with  that  of  the  third  cataract  as  it  appears 
upon  the  map,  we  come  to  the  conclusion  that  these  ghost- 
like silhouettes  are  the  summits  of  Mount  Fogo *  and 
Mount  Arambo — two  apparently  parallel  mountains  situate 
on  opposite  sides  of  the  river  about  ten  miles  below 
Hannek,  and  consequently  about  one  hundred  and  forty- 
five  miles,  as  the  bird  flies,  from  the  spot  on  which  we  are 
standing. 

In  all  this  extraordinary  panorama,  so  wild,  so  weird,  so 
desolate,  there  is  nothing  really  beautiful  except  the  color. 
But  the  color  is  transcendent.  Never,  even  in  Egypt, 
have  I  seen  anything  so  tender,  so  transparent,  so  harmo- 
nious. I  shut  my  eyes  and  it  all  comes  before  me.  I  see 
the  amber  of  the  sands  ;  the  pink  and  pearly  mountains; 
the  cataract  rocks,  all  black  and  purple  and  polished;  the 
dull  gray  palms  that  cluster  here  and  there  upon  the  larger 
islands;  the  vivid  verdure  of  the  tamarisks  and  pomegran- 
ates; the  Nile,  a  greenish-brown  flecked  with  yeasty  foam; 
over  all,  the  blue  and  burning  sky,  permeated  with  light, 
and  palpitating  with  sunshine. 

I  made  no  sketch.  I  felt  that  it  would  be  ludicrous  to 
attempt  it.  And  I  feel  now  that  any  endeavor  to  put  the 
scene  into  words  is  a  mere  presumptuous  effort  to  describe 
the  indescribable.  Words  are  useful  instruments  ;  but, 
like  the  etching  needle  and  the  burin,  they  stop  short  at 
form.     They  cannot  translate  color. 

If  a  traveler  pressed  for  time  asked  me  whether  he 
should  or  should   not  go  as  far  as   the  second  cataract,  I 

*  Mount  Fogo,  as  shown  upon  Keith  Johnston's  map  of  Egypt  and 
Nubia,  would  seem  to  be  identical  with  the  Ali  Bersi  of  Lepsius, 


THE  SECOND  CATARACT.  291 

think  I  should  recommend  him  to  turn  back  from  Abou 
Simbel.  The  trip  must  cost  four  days;  and  if  the  wind 
should  happen  to  be  unfavorable  either  way,  it  may  cost 
six  or  seven.  The  forty  miles  of  river  that  have  to  be 
twice  traversed  are  the  dullest  on  the  Nile;  the  cataract  is 
but  an  enlarged  and  barren  edition  of  the  cataract  be- 
tween Assuan  and  Phila?;  and  the  great  view,  as  I  have 
said,  has  not  that  kind  of  beauty  which  attracts  the  gen- 
eral tourist. 

It  has  an  interest,  however,  beyond  and  apart  from  that 
of  beauty.  It  rouses  one's  imagination  to  a  sense  of  the 
greatness  of  the  Nile.  We  look  across  a  world  of  desert, 
and  see  the  river  still  coming  from  afar.  We  have  reached 
a  point  at  which  all  that  is  habitable  and  familiar  comes 
abruptly  to  an  end.  Not  a  village,  not  a  bean-field,  not  a 
shaduf,  not  a  sakkieh,  is  to  be  seen  in  the  plain  below. 
There  is  no  sail  on  those  dangerous  waters.  There  is  no 
moving  creature  on  those  pathless  sands.  But  for  the 
telegraphic  wires  stalking,  ghostlike,  across  the  desert,  it 
would  seem  as  if  we  had  touched  the  limit  of  civilization, 
and  were  standing  on  the  threshold  of  a  land  unexplored. 

Yet  for  all  this,  we  feel  as  if  we  were  at  only  the  begin- 
ning of  the  mighty  river.  We  have  journeyed  well-nigh 
a  thousand  miles  against  the  stream  ;  but  what  is  that  to 
the  distance  which  still  lies  between  us  and  the  great  lakes? 
And  how  far  beyond  the  great  lakes  must  we  seek  for  the 
source  that  is  even  yet  undiscovered? 

We  stayed  at  Wady  Halfeli  but  one  night  and  paid  but 
one  visit  to  the  cataract.  We  saw  no  crocodiles,  though 
they  are  still  plentiful  among  these  rocky  islets.  The  M. 
B.'s,  who  had  been  here  a  wreek,  were  full  of  crocodile 
stories  and  of  Alfred's  deeds  of  arms.  He  had  stalked 
and  shot  a  monster,  two  clays  before  our  arrival ;  but  the 
creature  had  rushed  into  the  water  when  hit,  waving  its 
tail  furiously  above  its  head,  and  had  neither  been  seen 
nor  heard  of  since. 

Like  Achilles,  the  crocodile  has  but  one  vulnerable 
spot;  and  this  is  a  small  unarmored  patch  behind  the  fore- 
arm. He  will  take  a  good  deal  of  killing  even  there,  un- 
less the  bullet  finds  its  way  to  a  vital  part,  or  is  of  the  dia- 
bolical kind  called  "explosive."  Even  when  mortally 
wTounded,  he  seldom  drops  on  the  spot.  With  his  last 
strength,  he  rushes  to  the  water  and  dies  at  the  bottom. 


292  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

After  three  days  the  carcass  rises  and  floats,  and  our 
friends  were  now  waiting  in  order  that  Alfred  might  hag 
his  hig  game.  Too  often,  however,  the  poor  brute  either 
crawls  into  a  hole,  or,  in  his  agony,  becomes  entangled 
among  weeds  and  comes  up  no  more.  For  one  crocodile 
bagged,  a  dozen  regain  the  river,  and,  after  lingering 
miserably  under  water,  die  out  of  sight  and  out  of  reach 
of  the  sportsman. 

While  we  were  climbing  the  Rock  of  Abusir  our  men 
were  busy  taking  down  the  big  sail  and  preparing  the 
Philaa  for  her  long  and  ignominious  journey  down-stream. 
We  came  back  to  find  the  mainyard  laid  along  like  a  roof- 
tree  above  our  heads;  the  sail  rolled  up  in  a  huge  ball  and 
resting  on  the  roof  of  the  kitchen  ;  the  small  aftersail  and 
yard  hoisted  on  the  mainmast;  the  oars  lashed  six  on  each 
side;  and  the  lower  deck  a  series  of  yawning  chasms,  every 
alternate  plank  being  taken  up  so  as  to  form  seats  and 
standing  places  for  the  rowers. 

Thus  dismantled,  the  dahabeeyah  becomes,  in  fact,  a  gal- 
ley. Her  oars  are  now  her  chief  motive  power;  and  a  crew 
of  steady  rowers  (having  always  the  current  in  their  favor) 
can  do  thirty  miles  a  day.  When,  however,  a  good  breeze 
blows  from  the  south,  the  small  sail  aud  the  current  are 
enough  to  carry  the  boat  well  along  ;  and  then  the  men 
reserve  their  strength  for  rowing  by  night,  when  the  wind 
has  dropped.  Sometimes,  when  it  is  a  dead  calm  and  the 
rowers  need  rest,  the  dahabeeyah  is  left  to  her  own  devices 
and  floats  with  the  stream — now  waltzing  ludicrously  in 
the  middle  of  the  river  ;  now  drifting  sidewise  like  Mr. 
Winkle's  horse  ;  now  sidling  up  to  the  east  bank;  now 
changing  her  mind  and  blundering  over  to  the  west;  mak- 
ing upon  an  average  about  a  mile  and  a  half  01  two  miles 
an  hour,  and  presenting  a  pitiful  spectacle  of  helpless 
imbecility.  At  other  times,  however,  the  head  wind 
blows  so  hard  that  neither  oars  nor  current  avail;  and  then 
there  is  nothing  for  it  but  to  lie  under  the  bank  and  wait 
for  better  times. 

This  was  our  sad  case  in  going  back  to  Abou  Simbel. 
Having  struggled  with  no  little  difficulty  through  the  first 
five-and-twenty  miles,  we  came  to  a  dead-lock  about  half- 
way between  Faras  and  Gebel-esh-Shems.  Carried  forward 
by  the  stream,  driven  back  by  the  wind,  buffeted  by  the 
waves,  and  bumped  incessantly  by  the  rocking  to  and  fro 
of  the  felucca,  our   luckless  Phila?,  after  oscillating  for 


THE  SECOND  CA  TA  RA  CT.  ;.'  93 

hours  within  the  space  of  a  mile,  was  run  at  last  into  a 
sheltered  nook,  and  there  left  in  peace  till  the  wind  should 
change  or  drop. 

Imprisoned  here  for  a  day  and  a  half,  we  found  our- 
selves, fortunately,  within  reach  of  the  tumuli  which  we 
had  already  made  up  our  minds  to  explore.  Making  first 
for  those  on  the  east  bank,  we  took  witli  us  in  the  felucca 
four  men  to  row  and  dig,  a  fire-shovel,  a  small  hatchet,  an 
iron  bar,  and  a  large  wicker  basket,  which  were  the  only 
implements  we  possessed.  What  we  wanted  both  then 
and  afterward,  and  what  no  dahabeeyah  should  ever  be 
without,  were  two  or  three  good  spades,  a  couple  of  picks, 
and  a  crowbar. 

Climbing  to  the  top  of  one  of  the  highest  of  these  hil- 
locks, we  began  by  surveying  the  ground.  The  desert 
here  is  firm  to  the  tread,  flat,  compact,  and  thickly  strewn 
with  pebbles.  Of  the  fine  yellow  sand  which  characterizes 
the  Libyan  bank,  there  is  little  to  be  seen,  and  that  little 
lies  like  snow  in  drifts  and  clefts  and  hollows,  as  if  carried 
thither  by  the  wind.  The  tumuli,  however,  are  mounded 
of  pure  alluvial  mold,  smooth,  solid,  and  symmetrical.  We 
counted  thirty-four  of  all  sizes,  from  five  to  about  five-and- 
thirty  feet  in  height,  and  saw  at  least  as  many  more  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  river. 

Selecting  one  of  about  eight  feet  high,  we  then  set  the 
sailors  to  work  ;  and  although  it  was  impossible,  with  so 
few  men  and  such  insufficient  tools,  to  cut  straight  through 
the  center  of  the  mound,  we  at  all  events  succeeded  in 
digging  down  to  a  solid  substratum  of  lumps  of  crude  clay, 
evidently  molded  by  hand. 

Whether  these  formed  only  the  foundation  of  the 
tumulus,  or  concealed  a  grave  excavated  below  the  level  of 
the  desert,  we  had  neither  time  nor  means  to  ascertain. 
It  was  something  at  all  events,  to  have  convinced  our- 
selves that  the  mounds  were  artificial.* 

As  we  came  away,  we  met  a  Nubian  peasant  trudging 
northward.  He  was  leading  a  sorry  camel  ;  had  a  white 
cockerel  under  his  arm;  and  was  followed  by  a  frightened 

*  On  referring  to  Col.  H.  Vyse's  "Voyage  into  Upper  Egypt,"  etc. 
I  see  that  be  also  opened  one  of  these  tumuli,  but  "  found  no  indica- 
tion of  an  artificial  construction."  I  can  only  conclude  tbat  be  did 
not  carry  bis  excavation  low  enough.  As  it  is  difficult  to  suppose 
the  tumuli  made  for  nothing,  I  cannot  help  believing  that  they 
would  repay  a  more  systematic  investigation. 


294  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

woman,  who  drew  her  shawl  over  her  face  and  cowered 
behind  him  at  sight  of  the  Ingleezeh. 

We  asked  the  man  what  the  mounds  were,  and  who 
made  them;  bnt  he  shook  his  head,  and  said  they  had 
been  there  "from  old  time."  We  then  inquired  by  what 
name  they  were  known  in  these  parts;  to  which,  urging 
his  camel  forward,  he  replied  hesitatingly  that  they  had  a 
name,  but  that  he  had  forgotten  it. 

Having  gone  a  little  way,  however,  he  presently  turned 
back,  saying  that  he  now  remembered  all  about  it,  and  that 
they  were  called  "  The  Horns  of  Yackma." 

More  than  this  we  could  not  get  from  him.  Who 
Yackma  was,  or  how  he  came  to  have  horns,  or  why  his 
horns  should  take  the  form  of  tumuli,  was  more  than  he 
could  tell  or  we  could  guess. 

We  gave  him  a  small  backshish,  however,  in  return  for 
this  mysterious  piece  of  information,  and  went  our  way 
with  all  possible  speed;  intending  to  row  across  and  see 
the  mounds  on  the  opposite  bank  before  sunset.  But  we 
had  not  calculated  upon  the  difficulty  of  either  threading 
our  way  among  a  chain  of  sand-banks,  or  going  at  least  two 
miles  farther  north,  so  as  to  get  round  into  the  navigable 
channel  at  the  other  side.  We  of  course  tried  the  shorter 
way,  and  after  running  aground  some  three  or  four  times, 
had  to  give  it  up,  hoist  our  little  sail,  and  scud  homeward 
as  fast  as  the  wind  would  carry  us. 

The  coming  back  thus,  after  an  excursion  in  the  felucca, 
is  one  of  the  many  pleasant  things  that  one  has  to  remem- 
ber of  the  Nile.  The  sun  has  set;  the  after-glow  has 
faded;  the  stars  are  coming  out.  Leaning  back  with  a 
satisfied  sense  of  something  seen  or  done,  one  listens  to  the 
Qld  dreamy  chant  of  the  rowers  and  to  the  ripple  under 
the  keel.  The  palms,  meanwhile,  glide  past,  and  are  seen 
in  bronzed  relief  against  the  sky.  Presently  the  big  boat, 
all  glittering  with  lights,  looms  up  out  of  the  dusk.  A 
cheery  voice  hails  from  the  poop.  We  glide  under  the 
bows.  Half  a  dozen  smiling  brown  laces  bid  us  welcome, 
and  as  many  pairs  of  brown  hands  are  outstretched  to  help 
us  up  the  side.  A  savory  smell  is  wafted  from  the 
kitchen;  a  pleasant  vision  of  the  dining-saloon,  with  table 
ready  spread  and  lamps  ready  lit,  flushes  upon  us  through 
the  open  doorway.  We  are  at  home  once  more.  Let  us 
eat,  drink,  rest,  and  be  merry;  for  to-morrow  the  hard 
work  of  sight-seeing  and  sketching  begins  again. 


DISCO  VERIES  A  T  ABO  U  SIMBEL.  205 


CHAPTER    XVIII. 

DISCOVERIES    AT    ABOU    SIMBEL. 

We  came  back  to  find  a  fleet  of  dahabeeyahs  ranged 
along  the  shore  at  Abou  Simbel  and  no  less  than  three 
sketching-tents  in  occupation  of  the  ground.  One  of 
these,  which  happened  to  be  pitched  on  the  precise  spot 
vacated  by  our  painter,  was  courteously  shifted  to  make 
way  for  the  original  tenant;  and  in  the  course  of  a  couple 
of  hours  we  were  all  as  much  at  home  as  if  we  had  not 
been  away  for  half  a  day. 

Here,  meanwhile,  was  our  old  acquaintance — the  Fostat, 
with    her   party  of   gentlemen  ;    yonder   the   Zenobia,  all 

ladies;  the  little  Alice,  with  Sir  J.  C and  Mr.  W on 

board;  the  Sirena,  flying  witli  stars  and  stripes;  the  Man- 
soorah,  bound  presently  for  the  Fayum.  To  these  were 
next  day  added  the  Ebers,  with  a  couple  of  German 
savants ;  and  the  Bagstones,  welcome  back  from  Wady 
Halfeh. 

What  with  arrivals  and  departures,  exchange  of  visits, 
exhibitions  of  sketches  and  sociabilities  of  various  kinds, 
we  had  now  quite  a  gay  time.  The  Philas  gave  a  dinner- 
party and  fantasia  under  the  very  noses  of  the  colossi  and 
every  evening  there  was  drumming  and  howling  enough 
among  the  assembled  crews  to  raise  the  ghosts  of  Rameses 
and  all  his  queens.  This  was  pleasant  enough  while  it 
lasted;  but  when  the  strangers  dropped  off  one  by  one  and 
at  the  end  of  three  days  we  were  once  more  alone,  I  think 
Ave  were  not  sorry.  The  place  was,  somehow,  too  solemn 
for 

"  Singing,  laughing,  ogling  and  all  that." 

It  was  by  comparing  our  watches  with  those  of  the 
travelers  whom  we  met  at  Abou  Simbel,  that  we  now 
found  out  how  hopelessly  our  timekeepers  and  theirs  had 
gone  astray.     We  had  been  altering  ours  continually  ever 


296  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

since  leaving  Cairo;  but  the  sun  was  as  continually  putting 
them  wrong  again,  so  that  we  had  lost  all  count  of  the  true 
time.  The  first  words  with  which  we  now  greeted  a  new- 
comer were:  "Do  you  know  what  o'clock  it  is?"  To 
which  the  stranger  as  invariably  replied  that  it  was  the 
very  question  he  was  himself  about  to  ask.  The  confusion 
became  at  last  so  great  that,  finding  that  we  had  about 
eleven  hours  of  day  to  thirteen  of  night,  we  decided  to 
establish  an  arbitrary  canon;  so  we  called  it  seven  when  the 
sun  rose  and  six  when  it  set,  which  answered  every 
purpose. 

It  was  between  two  and  four  o'clock,  according  to  this 
time  of  ours,  that  the  southern  cross  was  now  visible  every 
morning.  It  is  undoubtedly  best  seen  at  Abou  Simbel. 
The  river  is  here  very  wide  and  just  where  the  constellation 
rises  there  is  an  opening  in  the  mountains  on  the  eastern 
bank,  so  that  these  four  fine  stars,  though  still  low  in  the 
heavens,  are  seen  in  a  free  space  of  sky.  If  they  make, 
even  so,  a  less  magnificent  appearance  than  one  has  been 
led  to  expect,  it  is  probably  because  we  see  them  from  too 
low  a  point  of  view.  To  say  that  a  constellation  is  fore- 
shortened sounds  absurd  ;  yet  that  is  just  what  is  the 
matter  with  the  Southern  Cross  at  Abou  Simbel.  Viewed  at 
an  angle  of  about  thirty  degrees,  it  necessarily  looks  dis- 
tort and  dim.  If  seen  burning  in  the  zenith,  it  would  no 
doubt  come  up  to  the  level  of  its  reputation. 

It  was  now  the  fifth  day  after  our  return  from  Wady 
Halfeh,  when  an  event  occurred  that  roused  us  to  an  un- 
wonted pitch  of  excitement  and  kept  us  at  high  pressure 
throughout  the  rest  of  our  time. 

The  day  was  Sunday  ;  the  date  February  16,  1874;  the 
time,  according  to  Philas  reckoning,  about  eleven  a.m., 
when  the  painter,  enjoying  his  seventh  day's  holiday  after 
his  own  fashion,  went  strolling  about  among  the  rocks. 
He  happened  to  turn  his  steps  southward  and,  passing  the 
front  of  the  great  temple,  climbed  to  the  top  of  a  little 
shapeless  mound  of  fallen  cliff  and  sand  and  crude-brick 
wall,  just  against  the  corner  where  the  mountain  slopes 
down  to  the  river.  Immediately  round  this  corner,  look- 
ing almost  due  south,  and  approachable  only  by  a  narrow 
ledge  of  rock,  are  two  votive  tablets,  sculptured  and 
painted,  both  of  the  thirty-eighth  year  of  Rameses  II.  We 
had  seen  these  from  the  river  as  we  came  back  from   Wady 


DISCO  VERIES  AT  ABO  U  8MB  EL .  29? 

Halfeh,  and  had  remarked  how  fine  the  view  must  be  from 
that  point.  Beyond  the  fact  that  they  are  colored  and  that 
the  coior  upon  them  is  still  bright,  there  is  nothing  remark- 
able about  these  inscriptions.  There  are  many  such  at 
Abou  Simbel.  Our  painter  did  not,  therefore,  come  here 
to  examine  the  tablets;  he  was  attracted  solely  by  the 
view. 

Turning  back  presently  his  attention  was  arrested  by 
some  much  mutilated  sculptures  on  the  face  of  the  rock,  a 
few  yards  nearer  the  south  buttress  of  the  temple.  He  had 
seen  these  sculptures  before  —  so,  indeed,  had  I,  when 
wandering  about  that  first  day  in  search  of  a  point  of 
view — without  especially  remarking  them.  The  relief  was 
low,  the  execution  slight;  and  the  surface  so  broken  away 
that  only  a  few  confused  outlines  remained. 

The  thing  that  now  caught  the  painter's  eye,  however, 
was  a  long  crack  running  transversely  down  the  face  of  the 
rock.  It  was  such  a  crack  as  might  have  been  caused,  one 
would  say,  by  blasting. 

He  stooped — cleared  the  sand  away  a  little  with  his  hand 
— observed  that  the  crack  widened — poked  in  the  point  of 
his  stick  and  found  that  it  penetrated  to  a  depth  of  two  or 
three  feet.  Even  then  it  seemed  to  him  to  stop,  not  because 
it  encountered  any  obstacle,  but  because  the  crack  was  not 
wide  enough  to  admit  the  thick  end  of  the  stick. 

This  surprised  him.  No  mere  fault  in  the  natural  rock, 
he  thought,  would  go  so  deep.  He  scooped  away  a  little 
more  sand;  and  still  the  cleft  widened.  He  introduced  the 
stick  a  second  time.  It  was  a  long  palm-stick,  like  an 
alpenstock,  and  it  measured  about  five  feet  in  length.  When 
he  probed  the  cleft  with  it  this  second  time  it  went  in 
freely  up  to  where  he  held  it  in  his  hand — that  is  to  say, 
to  a  depth  of  quite  four  feet. 

Convinced  now  that  there  was  some  hidden  cavity  in  the 
rock,  he  carefully  examined  the  surface.  There  were  yet 
visible  a  few  hieroglyphic  characters  and  part  of  two  car- 
touches, as  well  as  some  battered  outlines  of  what  had  once 
been  figures.  The  heads  of  these  figures  were  gone  (the  face 
of  the  rock,  with  whatever  may  have  been  sculptured  upon 
it,  having  come  away  bodily  at  this  point),  while  from  the 
waist  downward  they  were  hidden  under  the  sand.  Only 
some  hands  and  arms,  in  short,  could  be  made  out. 

They  were    the   hands   and    arms,    apparently,  of   four 


298  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

figures;  two  in  the  center  of  the  composition  and  two  at 
the  extremities.  The  two  center  ones,  which  seemed  to 
be  back  to  back,  probably  represented  gods;  the  outer  ones, 
worshipers. 

All  at  once  it  flashed  upon  the  painter  that  he  had  seen 
this  kind  of  a  group  many  a  time  before — and  generally 
over  a  doorway. 

Feeling  sure  now  that  he  was  on  the  brink  of  a  discovery 
he  came  back,  fetched  away  Salame  and  MehemetAli,  and, 
without  saying  a  syllable  to  any  one,  set  to  work  with 
these  two  to  scrape  away  the  sand  at  the  spot  where  the 
crack  widened. 

Meanwhile,  the  luncheon-bell  having  rung  thrice,  we 
concluded  that  the  painter  had  rambled  off  somewhere  into 
the  desert,  and  so  sat  down  without  him.  Toward  the 
close  of  the  meal,  however,  came  a  penciled  note,  the  con- 
tents of  which  ran  as  follows: 

"  Pray  come  immediately — I  have  found  the  entrance  to 
a  tomb.     Please  send  some  sandwiches.     A.   M'C ." 

To  follow  the  messenger  at  once  to  the  scene  of  action 
was  the  general  impulse.  In  less  than  ten  minutes  we  were 
there,  asking  breathless  questions,  peeping  in  through  the 
fast-widening  aperture  and  helping  to  clear  away  the  sand. 

All  that  Sunday  afternoon,  heedless  of  possible  sun- 
stroke, unconscious  of  fatigue,  we  toiled  upon  our  hands 
and  knees,  as  for  bare  life,  under  the  burning  sun.  We  had 
all  the  crew  up,  working  like  tigers.  Every  one  helped; 
even  the  dragoman  and  the  two  maids.  More  than  once, 
when  we  paused  for  a  moment's  breathing-space,  we  said 
to  each  other:  •'  If  those  at  home  could  see  us  what  would 
they  say?" 

And  now,  more  than  ever,  we  felt  the  need  of  imple- 
ments. With  a  spade  or  two  and  a  wheelbarrow  we  could 
have  done  wonders  ;  but  with  only  one  small  fire-shovel, 
a  birch  broom,  a  couple  of  charcoal  baskets,  and  about 
twenty  pairs  of  hands,  we  were  poor  indeed.  What  was 
wanted  in  means,  however,  was  made  up  in  method. 
Some  scraped  away  the  sand  ;  some  gathered  it  into 
baskets;  some  carried  the  baskets  to  the  edge  of  the  cliff 
and   emptied   them   into   the   river.     The   idle   man  dis- 


DISCO  VERIES  AT  ABO  U  SIMS  EL.  299 

tinguished  himself  by  scooping  out  a  channel  where  the 
slope  was  steepest  ;  which  greatly  facilitated  the  work. 
Emptied  down  this  chute  and  kept  continually  going,  the 
sand  poured  off  in  a  steady  stream  like  water. 

Meanwhile  the  opening  grew  rapidly  larger.  When  we 
first  came  up  —  that  is,  when  the  painter  and  the  two 
sailors  had  been  working  on  it  for  about  an  hour — we 
found  a  hole  scarcely  as  large  as  one's  hand,  through 
which  it  was  just  possible  to  catch  a  dim  glimpse  of  painted 
walls  within.  By  sunset  the  top  of  the  doorway  was  laid 
bare,  and  where  the  crack  ended  in  a  large  triangular 
fracture  there  was  an  aperture  about  a  foot  and  a  half 
square,  into  which  Mehemet  Ali  was  the  first  to  squeeze 
his  way.  We  passed  him  in  a  candle  and  a  box  of  matches; 
but  he  came  out  again  directly,  saying  that  it  was  a  most 
beautiful  birbeh,  and  quite  light  within. 

The  writer  wriggled  in  next.  She  found  herself  looking 
down  from  the  top  of  a  sand-slope  into  a  small  square 
chamber.  This  sand-drift,  which  here  rose  to  within  a 
foot  and  a  half  of  the  top  of  the  doorway,  was  heaped  to 
the  ceiling  in  the  corner  behind  the  door,  and  thence  sloped 
steeply  down,  completely  covering  the  floor.  There  was 
light  enough  to  see  every  detail  distinctly — the  painted 
frieze  running  round  just  under  the  ceiling  ;  the  bas-relief 
sculptures  on  the  walls,  gorgeous  with  unfaded  color;  the 
smooth  sand,  pitted  near  the  top,  where  Mehemet  Ali  had 
trodden,  but  undisturbed  elsewhere  by  human  foot ;  the 
great  gap  in  the  middle  of  the  ceiling,  where  the  rock  had 
given  way  ;  the  fallen  fragments  on  the  floor,  now  almost 
buried  in  sand. 

Satisfied  that  the  place  was  absolutel}7  fresh  and  un- 
touched, the  writer  crawled  out,  and  the  others,  one  by 
by  one,  crawled  in.  When  each  had  seen  it  in  turn  the 
opening  was  barricaded  for  the  night;  the  sailors  being  for- 
bidden to  enter  it  lest   they  should  injure  the  decorations. 

That  evening  was  held  a  solemn  council,  whereat  it  w7as 
decided  that  Talhamy  and  Reis  Hassan  should  go  to-mor- 
row to  the  nearest  village,  there  to  engage  the  services  of 
fifty  able-bodied  natives.  With  such  help,  we  calculated 
that  the  place  might  easily  be  cleared  in  twro  days.  If  it 
was  a  tomb  we  hoped  to  discover  the  entrance  to  the 
mummy  pit  below  ;  if  but  a  small  chapel,  or  speos,  like 
those  at  Ibrim,  we  should  at  least  have  the  satisfaction  of 


300  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

seeing  all  that  it  contained  in  the  way  of  sculptures  and 
inscriptions. 

This  was  accordingly  done  ;  but  we  worked  again  next 
morning  just  the  same,  till  midday.  Our  native  con- 
tingent, numbering  about  forty  men,  then  made  their 
appearance  in  a  rickety  old  boat,  the  bottom  of  which  was 
half-full  of  water. 

They  had  been  told  to  bring  implements  ;  and  they  did 
bring  such  as  they  had — two  broken  oars  to  dig  with,  some 
baskets,  and  a  number  of  little  slips  of  planking  which, 
being  tied  between  two  pieces  of  rope  and  drawn  along  the 
surface,  acted  as  scrapers  and  were  useful  as  far  as  they 
went.  Squatting  in  double  file  from  the  entrance  of  the 
speos  to  the  edge  of  the  cliff,  and  to  the  burden  of  a  rude 
chant  propelling  these  improvised  scrapers,  the  men  began 
by  clearing  a  path  to  the  doorway.  This  gave  them  work 
enough  for  the  afternoon.  At  sunset,  when  they  dis- 
persed, the  path  was  scooped  out  to  a  depth  of  four  feet, 
like  a  miniature  railway  cutting  between  embankments  of 
sand. 

Next  morning  came  the  sheik  in  person  with  his  two 
sons  and  a  following  of  a  hundred  men.  This  was  so 
many  more  than  we  had  bargained  for  that  we  at  once 
foresaw  a  scheme  to  extort  money.  The  sheik,  however, 
proved  to  be  that  same  Rashwan  Ebn  Hassan  el  Kashef, 
by  whom  the  happy  couple  had  been  so  hospitably  enter- 
tained about  a  fortnignt  before;  we  therefore  received  him 
with  honor,  invited  him  to  luncheon,  and,  hoping  to  get 
the  work  done  quickly,  set  the  men  on  in  gangs  under  the 
superintendence  of  Rei's  Hassan  and  the  head  sailor. 

By  noon  the  door  was  cleared  down  to  the  threshold, 
and  the  whole  south  and  west  walls  were  laid  bare  to  the 
floor. 

We  now  found  that  the  debris  which  blocked  the  north 
wall  and  the  center  of  the  floor  was  not,  as  we  had  at 
first  supposed,  a  pile  of  fallen  fragments,  but  one  solid 
bowlder  which  had  come  down  bodily  from  above.  To 
remove  this  was  impossible.  We  had  no  tools  to  cut  or 
break  it  and  it  was  both  wider  and  higher  than  the  doorway. 
Even  to  clear  away  the  sand  which  rose  behind  it  to  the 
ceiling  would  have  taken  a  long  time  and  have  caused  in- 
evitable injury  to  the  paintings  around.     Already  the  brill- 


DISCO  VERIES  A  T  ABO  U  8IMBEL.  301 

iancy  of  the  color  was  marred  where  the  men  had  leaned 
their  backs,  all  wet  with  perspiration,  against  the  walls. 

Seeing,  therefore,  that  three-fourths  of  the  decorations 
were  now  uncovered,  and  that  behind  the  fallen  block  there 
appeared  to  be  no  subject  of  great  size  or  importance,  we 
made  up  our  minds  to  carry  the  work  no  further. 

Meanwhile,  we  had  great  fun  at  luncheon  with  our 
Nubian  sheik — a  tall,  well-featured  man  with  much 
natural  dignity  of  manner.  He  was  well  dressed,  too,  and 
wore  a  white  turban  most  symmetrically  folded;  a  white 
vest  buttoned  to  the  throat;  a  long,  loose  robe  of  black 
serge;  an  outer  robe  of  fine  black  cloth  with  hanging 
sleeves  and  a  hood;  and  on  his  feet,  white  stockings  and 
scarlet  morocco  shoes.  When  brought  face  to  face  with 
a  knife  and  fork  his  embarrassment  was  great.  He  was, 
it  seemed,  too  grand  a  personage  to  feed  himself.  He 
must  have  a  "feeder;"  as  the  great  men  of  the  middle  ages 
had  a  "  taster."  Talhamy  accordingly,  being  promoted  to 
this  office,  picked  out  choice  bits  of  mutton  and  chicken 
with  his  fingers,  dipped  pieces  of  bread  in  gravy  and  put 
every  morsel  into  our  guest's  august  mouth,  as  if  the  said 
guest  were  a  baby. 

The  sweets  being  served,  the  little  lady,  L and  the 

writer  took  him  in  hand  and  fed  him  with  all  kinds  of 
jams  and  preserved  fruits.  Enchanted  with  these  atten- 
tions, the  poor  man  eat  till  he  could  eat  no  longer;  then 
laid  his  hand  pathetically  over  the  region  next  his  heart 
and  cried  for  mercy.  After  luncheon  he  smoked  his 
chibouque  and  coffee  was  served.  Our  coffee  did  not  please 
him.  He  tasted  it,  but  immediately  returned  the  cup, 
telling  the  waiter  with  a  grimace,  that  the  berries  were 
burned  and  the  coffee  weak.  When,  however,  we  apolo- 
gized for  it,  he  protested  with  oriental  insincerity  that  it 
was  excellent. 

To  amuse  him  was  easy,  for  he  was  interested  in  every- 
thing; in  L 's  field-glass,  in  the  painter's  accordion,  in 

the  piano,  and  the  lever  corkscrew.  With  some  eau-de- 
cologne  he  was  also  greatly  charmed,  rubbing  it  on  his 
beard  and  inhaling  it  with  closed  eyes,  in  a  kind  of 
rapture  To  make  talk  was,  as  usual,  the  great  difficulty. 
When  he  had  told  us  that  his  eldest  son  was  Governor  of 
Derr;  that  his  youngest  was  five  years  of  age;  that  the 
dates  of  Derr  were  better  than  the  dates  of  Wady  Hall'eh; 


302  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

and  that  the  Nubian  people  were  very  poor,  he  was  at  the 
end  of  his  topics.     Finally,  he  requested   us  to  convey  a 

letter  from  him  to  Lord  I) ,  who  had  entertained  him 

on  board  his  dahabeeyah  the  year  before.  Being  asked  if 
he  had  brought  his  letter  with  him,  he  shook  his  head, 
saying:  "Your  dragoman  shall  write  it." 

So  paper  and  a  reed  pen  were  produced  and  Talhamy 
wrote  to  dictation  as  follows: 

"  God  have  care  of  you.  I  hope  you  are  well.  I  am 
sorry  not  to  have  had  a  letter  from  you  since  you  were 
here.     Your  brother  and  friend, 

"Eashwan  Ebjst  Hassaist  el  Kashef." 

A  model  letter  this;  brief  and  to  the  point. 

Our  urbane  and  gentlemanly  sheik  was,  however,  not 
quite  so  charming  when  it  came  to  settling  time.  We  had 
sent  at  first  for  fifty  men,  and  the  price  agreed  upon  was 
five  piasters,  or  about  a  shilling  English,  for  each  man  per 
day.  In  answer  to  this  call,  there  first  came  forty  men  for 
half  a  day;  then  a  hundred  men  for  a  whole  day,  •or  what 
was  called  a  whole  day;  so  making  a  total  of  six  pounds 
due  for  wages.  But  the  descendants  of  the  Kashefs  would 
hear  of  nothing  so  commonplace  as  the  simple  fulfillment  of 
a  straightforward  contract.  He  demanded  full  pay  for  a 
hundred  men  for  two  whole  days,  a  gun  for  himself,  and  a 
liberal  backshish  in  cash.  Finding  he  had  asked  more 
than  he  had  any  chance  of  getting,  he  conceded  the  ques- 
tion of  wages,  but  stood  out  for  a  game-bag  and  a  pair  of 
pistols.  Finally,  he  was  obliged  to  be  content  with  the  six 
pounds  for  his  men,  and  for  himself  two  pots  of  jam,  two 
boxes  of  sardines,  a  bottle  of  eau-de-cologne,  a  box  of  pills, 
and  half  a  sovereign. 

By  four  o'clock  he  and  his  followers  were  gone,  and  we 
once  more  had  the  place  to  ourselves.  So  long  as  they 
were  there  it  was  impossible  to  do  anything,  but  now,  for 
the  first  time,  we  fairly  entered  into  possession  of  our 
newly  found  treasure. 

All  the  rest  of  that  day,  and  all  the  next  day,  we  spent 

at  work  in    and  about  the  spoos.       L and   the    little 

lady  took  their  books  and  knitting  there,  and  made  a  little 
drawing-room  of  it.  The  writer  copied  paintings  and 
inscriptions.     The  idle  man  and  the  painter  took  measure- 


D TSCO VER ELS  AT  ABOU  SIMB EL.  303 

ments  and  surveyed  the  ground  round  about,  especially 
endeavoring  to  make  out  the  plan  of  certain  fragments  of 
wall,  the  foundations  of  which  were  yet  traceable. 

A  careful  examination  of  these  ruins,  and  a  little  clear- 
ing of  the  sand  here  and  there,  led  to  further  discoveries. 
They  found  that  the  speos  had  been  approached  by  a 
large  outer  hall  built  of  sun-dried  brick,  with  one  princi- 
pal entrance  facing  the  Nile,  and  two  side  entrances  facing 
northward.  The  floor  was  buried  deep  in  sand  and  debris, 
but  enough  of  the  walls  remained  above  the  surface  to 
show  that  the  ceiling  had  been  vaulted  and  the  side 
entrances  arched. 

The  southern  boundary  wall  of  this  hall,  when  the  sur- 
face sand  was  removed,  appeared  to  be  no  less  than  twenty 
feet  in  thickness.  This  was  not  in  itself  so  wonderful, 
there  being  instances  of  ancient  Egyptian  crude-brick  walls 
which  measure  eighty  feet  in  thickness;*  but  it  was 
astounding  as  compared  with  the  north,  east,  and  west 
walls,  which  measured  only  three  feet.  Deeming  it  impos- 
sible that  this  mass  could  be  solid  throughout,  the  idle  man 
set  to  work  with  a  couple  of  sailors  to  probe  the  center  part 
of  it,  and  it  soon  became  evident  that  there  was  a  hollow 
space  about  three  feet  in  width  running  due  east  and  west 
down  not  quite  exactly  the  middle  of  the  structure. 

All  at  once  the  idle  man  thrust  his  fingers  into  a  skull! 

This  was  such  an  amazing  and  unexpected  incident  that 
for  the  moment  he  said  nothing,  but  went  on  quietly  dis- 
placing the  sand  and  feeling  his  way  under  the  surface. 
The  next  instant  his  hand  came  in  contact  with  the  edge  of 
a  clay  bowl,  which  he  carefully  withdrew.  It  measured 
about  four  inches  in  diameter,  was  hand-molded,  and  full 
of  caked  sand.  He  now  proclaimed  his  discoveries  and  all 
ran  to  help  in  the  work.  Soon  a  second  and  smaller  skull 
was  turned  up,  then  another  bowl,  and  then,  just  under 
the  place  from  which  the  bowls  were  taken,  the  bones  of 
two  skeletons,  all  detached,  perfectly  desiccated,  and  appar- 
ently complete.  The  remains  were  those  of  a  child  and  a 
small  grown  person — probably  a  woman.  The  teeth  were 
sound;  the  bones  wonderfully  delicate  and  brittle.     As  for 

*  The  inclosure-wall  of  the  great  Temple  of  Tanis  is  eighty  feet 
thick.  See  "Tanis,"  Part  1,  by  W.  M.  F.  Petrie;  published  by  the 
Committee  of  the  Egypt  Exploration  Fund,  1885.  [Note  to  second 
edition.] 


304  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  little  skull  (which  had  fallen  apart  at  the  sutures),  it 
was  pure  and  fragile  in  texture  as  the  cup  of  a  water-lily. 

We  laid  the  bones  aside  as  we  found  them,  examining 
every  handful  of  sand,  in  the  hope  of  discovering  some- 
thing that  might  throw  light  upon  the  burial.  But  in 
vain.  We  found  not  a  shred  of  clothing,  not  a  bead,  not 
a  coin,  not  the  smallest  vestige  of  anything  that  might 
help  one  to  judge  whether  the  interment  had  taken  place 
a  hundred  years  ago  or  a  thousand. 

We  now  called  up  all  the  crew,  and  went  on  excavating 
downward  into  what  seemed  to  be  a  long  and  narrow  vault 
measuring  some  fifteen  feet  by  three. 

After-reflection  convinced  us  that  we  had  stumbled  upon 
a  chance  Nubian  grave,  and  that  the  bowls  (which  at  first 
we  absurdly  dignified  with  the  name  of  cinerary  urns) 
were  but  the  usual  water-bowls  placed  at  the  heads  of  the 
dead.  But  we  were  in  no  mood  for  reflection  at  the  time. 
We  made  sure  that  the  speos  was  a  mortuary  chapel;  that 
the  vault  was  a  vertical  pit  leading  to  a  sepulchral  chamber; 
and  that  at  the  bottom  of  it  we  should  find — who  could 
tell  what?  Mummies,  perhaps,  and  sarcophagi, and  funerary 
statuettes,  and  jewels,  and  papiry  and  wonders  without  end! 
That  these  uncared-for  bones  should  be  laid  in  the  mouth 
of  such  a  pit,  scarcely  occurred  to  us  as  an  incongruity. 
Supposing  them  to  be  Nubian  remains,  what  then  ?  If  a 
modern  Nubian  at  the  top,  why  not  an  ancient  Egyptian  at 
the  bottom  ? 

As  the  work  of  excavation  went  on,  however,  the  vault 
was  found  to  be  entered  by  a  steep  inclined  plane.  Then 
the  inclined  plane  turned  out  to  be  a  flight  of  much  worn 
and  very  shallow  stairs.  These  led  down  to  a  small  square 
landing,  some  twelve  feet  below  the  surface,  from  which 
landing  an  arched  doorway*  and  passage  opened  into  the 
fore-court  of  the  speos.  Our  sailors  had  great  difficulty 
in  excavating  this  part,  in  consequence  of  the  weight  of 
superincumbent  sand  and  debris  on  the  side  next  the 
speos.       By   shoring   up  the  ground,  however,  they  were 

*  It  was  long  believed  that  the  Egyptians  were  ignorant  of  the 
principle  of  the  arch.  This,  however,  was  not  the  case.  There  are 
brick  arches  of  the  time  of  Rameses  II  behind  the  Ramesseum  at 
Thebes  and  elsewhere.  Still,  arches  are  rare  in  Egypt.  We  filled 
in  and  covered  the  arch  again,  and  the  greater  part  of  the  .staircase 
in  order  to  preserve  the  former 


DISCO VKRTES  AT  ABO U  S1MB EL.  305 

enabled  completely  to  clear  the  landing,  which  was  curi- 
ously paved  with  cones  of  rude  pottery  like  the  bottoms  of 
amphora?.  These  cones,  of  which  we  took  out  some 
twenty  eight  or  thirty,  were  not  in  the  least  like  the  cele- 
brated funerary  cones  found  so  abundantly  at  Thebes. 
They  bore  no  stamp,  and  were  much  shorter  and  more 
lumpy  in  shape.  Finally,  the  cones  being  all  removed,  we 
came  to  a  compact  and  solid  floor  of  baked  clay. 

The  painter,  meanwhile,  had  also  been  at  work.  Hav- 
ing traced  the  circuit  and  drawn  out  a  ground-plan,  he 
came  to  the  conclusion  that  the  whole  mass  adjoining 
the  southern  wall  of  the  speos  was  in  fact  composed 
of  the  ruins  of  a  pylon,  the  walls  of  which  were  seven  feet 
in  thickness,  built  in  regular  string-courses  of  molded 
brick,  and  finished  at  the  angles  with  the  usual  torus,  or 
round  molding.  The  superstructure,  with  its  chambers, 
passages,  and  top  cornice,  was  gone;  and  this  part  with 
which  we  were  now  concerned  was  merely  the  basement, 
and  included  the  bottom  of  the  staircase. 

The  painter's  ground-plan  demolished  all  our  hopes  at 
once  fell  swoop.  The  vault  was  a  vault  no  longer.  The 
staircase  led  to  no  sepulchral  chamber.  The  brick  floor 
had  no  secret  entrance.  Our  mummies  melted  into  thin 
air,  and  we  were  left  with  no  excuse  for  carrying  on  the  exca- 
vations. We  were  mortally  disappointed.  In  vain  we  told 
ourselves  that  the  discovery  of  a  large  brick  pylon,  the  ex- 
istence of  which  had  been  unsuspected  by  preceding  trav- 
elers, was  an  event  of  greater  importance  than  the  finding 
of  a  tomb.  We  had  set  our  hearts  on  the  tomb;  and  I  am 
afraid  we  cared  less  than  we  ought  for  the  pylon. 

Having  traced  thus  far  the  course  of  the  excavations 
and  the  way  in  which  one  discovery  led  step  by  step  to  an- 
other, I  must  now  return  to  the  speos,  and,  as  accurately 
as  I  can,  describe  it,  not  only  from  my  notes  made  on  the 
spot,  but  by  the  light  of  such  observations  as  I  afterward 
made  among  structures  of  the  same  style  and  period.  I 
must,  however,  premise  that,  not  being  able  to  go  inside 
while  the  excavators  were  in  occupation,  and  remaining 
but  one  whole  day  at  Abou  Simbel  after  the  work  was 
ended,  I  had  but"  a  short  time  at  my  disposal.  I  would 
gladly  have  made  colored  copies  of  all  the  wall-paintings; 
but  this  was  impossible.  I  therefore  was  obliged  to  be 
content  with  transcribing  the  inscriptions  and  sketching  a 
few  of  the  more  important  subjects. 


306  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

The  rock-cut  chamber  which  I  have  hitherto  described  as  a 
speos,  and  which  we  at  first  believed  to  be  a  tomb,  was  in  fact 
neither  the  one  or  the  other.  It  was  the  adytum  of  a  partly 
built,  partly  excavated  monument  coeval  in  date  with  the 
great  temple.  In  certain  points  of  design  this  monument 
resembles  the  contemporary  speos  of  Bayt-el-Welly.  It  is 
evident,  for  instance,  that  the  outer  halls  of  both  were 
originally  vaulted ;  and  the  much  mutilated  sculptures 
over  the  doorway  of  the  excavated  chamber  at  Abou  Simbel 
are  almost  identical  in  subject  and  treatment  with  those 
over  the  entrance  to  the  excavated  parts  of  Bayt-el-Welly. 
As  regards  general  conception,  the  Abou  Simbel  monu- 
ment comes  under  the  same  head  with  the  contemporary 
Temples  of  Derr,  Gerf  Hossayn,  and  YVady  Sabooah;  being 
in  a  mixed  style  which  combines  excavation  with  construc- 
tion. This  style  seems  to  have  been  peculiarly  in  favor 
during  the  reign  of  Rameses  II. 

Situated  at  the  southeastern  angle  of  the  rock,  a  little  way 
beyond  the  facade  of  the  great  temple,  this  rock-cut  adytum 
and  hall  of  entrance  face  southeast  by  east,  and  com- 
mand much  the  same  view  that  is  commanded  higher  up 
by  the  Temple  of  Hathor.  The  adytum,  or  excavated 
speos,  measures  twenty-one  feet  two  and  one-half  inches  in 
breadth  by  fourteen  feet  eight  inches  in  length.  The 
height  from  floor  to  ceiling  is  about  twelve  feet.  The 
doorway  measures  four  feet  three  and  one-half  inches  in 
width;  and  the  outer  recess  for  the  door-frame,  five  feet. 
Two  large  circle  holes,  one  in  the  threshold  and  the  other 
in  the  lintel,  mark  the  place  of  the  pivot  on  which  the 
door  once  swung. 

It  is  not  very  easy  to  measure  the  outer  hall  in  its  pres- 
ent ruined  and  encumbered  state;  but  as  nearly  as  we  could 
judge,  its  dimensions  are  as  follows:  Length,  twenty-five 
feet;  width,  twenty-two  and  one-half  feet:  width  of  prin- 
cipal entrance  facing  the  Xile,  six  feet:  width  of  two  side 
entrances,  four  feet  and  six  feet  respectively;  thickness  of 
crude-brick  walls,  three  feet.  Engaged  in  the  brickwork 
on  either  side  of  the  principal  entrance  to  this  hall  are  two 
stone  door-jambs;  and  some  six  or  eight  feet  in  front  of 
these  there  originally  stood  two  stone  hawks  on  hiero- 
glyphed  pedestals.  One  of  these  hawks  we  found  insitu, 
the  other  lay  some  little  distance  off.  and  the  painter  (sus- 
pecting nothing  of  these  after-revelations)  had  used  it  as  a 


DISCO  VKRIKS  AT  ABO  if  SIMBKL. 


307 


post  to  which  to  tie  one  of  the  main  ropes  of  his  sketching- 
tent.     A  large   hieroglyphed  slab,  which  I  take  to  have 


Scale  fi  of an  Inch-to  a  Foot. 


1.  Wall  of  pylon. 

I'  !Kd  llunlwly  and  passage  leading  to  vaulted  ball. 

4.  Walls  of  outer  hall  or  pronaos. 

5.  Door-jambs. 

6.  Stone  hawks  on  pedestals. 

a  Arched  entrances  in  north  wall  of  pronaos. 

formed  part  of  the  door,  lay  overturned  against  the  sid( 
of  the  pylon  some  few  yards  nearer  the  river. 


308 


A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  WILE. 


As  far  us  the  adytum  and  outer  hall  are  concerned,  the 
accompanying  ground-plan — which  is  in  part  founded  on 
my  own  measurements,  and  in  part  borrowed  from  the 
ground-plan  drawn  out  by  the  painter — may  be  accepted 
as  tolerably  correct.  But  with  regard  to  the  pylon,  I  can 
only  say  with  certainty  that  the  central  staircase  is  three 
feet  in  width,  and  that  the  walls  on  each  side  of  it  are 
seven  feet  in  thickness.  So  buried  is  it  in  debris  and 
sand,  that  even  to  indicate  where  the  building  ends  and 
the  rubbish  begins  at  the  end  next  the  Nile,  is  impossible. 
This  part  is,  therefore,  left  indefinite  in  the  ground-plan. 

So  far  as  we  could  see,  there  was  no  stone  revetement 
upon  the  inner  side  of  the  walls  of  the  pronaos.     If  any- 


PATTERN    OF   COKNICE. 


thing  of  the  kind  ever  existed,  some  remains  of  it  would 
probably  be  found  by  thoroughly  clearing  the  area;  an  in- 
teresting enterprise  for  any  who  may  have  leisure  to 
undertake  it. 

I  have  now  to  speak  of  the  decorations  of  the  adytum, 
the  walls  of  which,  from  immediately  under  the  ceiling  to 
within  three  feet  of  the  floor,  are  covered  with  religious 
subjects  elaborately  sculptured  in  bas-relief,  coated  as 
usual  with  a  thin  film  of  stucco  and  colored  with  a  rich- 
ness for  which  I  know  no  parallel,  except  in  the  tomb  of 
Seti  I  *  at  Thebes.  Above  the  level  of  the  drifted  sand 
this  color  was  as  brilliant  in  tone  and  as  fresh  in  surface  as 
on  the  day  when  it  was  transferred  to  those  walls  from  the 
palette  of  the  painter.  All  below  that  level,  however,  was 
dimmed  and  deranged. 

The  ceiling  is  surrounded  by  a  frieze  of  cartouches  sup- 
ported by  sacred  asps;  each  cartouche,  with  its  supporters, 

*  Commonly  known  as  Belzoni's  tomb. 


DI8C0VFAITKS  AT  ABOU  8IMBKL. 


3C9 


being  divided  from  the  next  by  a  small  sitting  figure. 
These  figures,  in  other  respects  uniform,  wear  the  symbolic 
heads  of  various  gods — the  cow-head  of  Hathor,  the  ibis- 
head  of  Thoth,  the  hawk-head  of  llorus,  the  jackal-head 
of  Annbis,  etc.  The  cartouches  contain  the  ordinary 
style  and  title  of  Raineses  II  (Ra-user-ma  Sotep-en-Ra 
Rameses  Mer-Amen),  and  are  surmounted  by  a  row  of  sun- 
disks.  Under  each  sitting  god  is  depicted  the  phonetic 
hieroglyph  signifying  Mer,  or  beloved.  By  means  of  this 
device,  the  whole  frieze  assumes  the 
character  of  a  connected  legend  and 
describes  the  king  not  only  as  beloved 
of  Amen,  but  as  Rameses  beloved  of 
Hathor,  of  Thoth,  of  Horns — in  short, 
of  each  god  depicted  in  the  series. 

These  gods  excepted,  the  frieze  is 
almost  identical  in  design  with  the 
frieze  in  the  first  hall  of  the  great 
temple. 


WEST   WALL.* 

The  west,  or  principal  wall,  facing 
the  entrance,  is  divided  into  two  large 
subjects,  each  containing  two  figures  the 
size  of  life.     In  the  division  to  the  right, 
Rameses  II  worships  Ra;  in  the  division 
to  the  left,  he  worships  Amen-Ra;  thus 
following  the  order  observed  in  the  other 
two  temples,  where  the  subjects  relating 
to  Amen-Ra  occupy  the  left  half  and  the  subjects   relating 
to  Ra  occupy  the  right  half  of  each  structure.     An  upright 
ensign   surmounted  by  an  exquisitely  drawn   and  colored 
head  of  Horns  Aroeris  separates  these  two   subjects. f     In 


STANDARD  OP  HORUS 
AROERIS. 


*  I  write  of  these  walls,  for  convenience,  as  nortli,  south,  east  and 
west,  as  onefis  so  accustomed  to  regard  the  position  of  buildings  paral- 
lel with  the  river;  but  the  present  monument,  as  it  is  turned  slightly 
southward  round  the  angle  of  the  rock,  really  stands  southeast  by 
east,  instead  of  east  and  west  like  the  large  temple. 

\  Horus  Aroeris. — "  Celui-ci,  qui  semble  avoir  ete  frere  d'Osiris, 
porte  une  tete  d'epervier  coiffee  du  pschent.  II  est  presque  complete- 
ment  identifie  avec  le  soleil  dans  la  plupart  des  lieux  ou  il  etait 
adore,  et  il  en  est  de  nieme  tres  souvent  pour  Horus,  fils  d'Isis." — 


310  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

the  subject  to  the  right,  Eaineses,  wearing  the  red  and 
white  pschent,  presents  an  offering  of  two  small  aryballos 
vases  without  handles.  The  vases  are  painted  blue  and 
are  probably  intended  to  represent  lapis  lazuli;  a  substance 
much  prized  by  the  ancient  Egyptians  and  known  to  them 
by  the  name  of  khesbet.  The  king's  necklace,  armlets  and 
bracelets  are  also  blue.  Ra  sits  enthroned,  holding  in  one 
hand  the  "ankh,"  or  crux  ansata,  emblem  of  life,  r\  and  in 
the  other  the  greyhound-headed*  scepter  of  the  •*■  gods. 
He  is  hawk-headed  and  crowned  with  the  sun-  ^  disk 
and  asp.  His  flesh  is  painted  bright  Venetian  red.  He  wears 
a  pectoral  ornament;  a  rich  necklace  of  alternate  vermilion 
and  black  drops;  and  a  golden-yellow  belt  studded  with 
red  and  black  stones.  The  throne,  which  stands  on  a  blue 
platform,  is  painted  in  stripes  of  red,  blue  and  white.  The 
platform  is  decorated  with  a  row  of  gold-colored  stars  and 
"  ankh"  emblems  picked  out  with  red.  At  the  foot  of 
this  platform,  between  the  god  and  the  king,  stands  a 
small  altar,  on  which  are  placed  the  usual  blue  lotus  with 
red  stalk  and  a  spouted  libation  vessel. 

To  the  left  of  the  Horus  ensign,  seated  back  to  back 
with  Ra  upon  a  similar  throne,  sits  Amen-Ra — of  all  Egyp- 
tian gods  the  most  terrible  to  look  upon — with  his  blue- 
black  complexion,  his  corselet  of  golden  chain-armor, 
and  his  head-dress  of  towering  plumes. f     Here  the  won- 

"  Notice  Sommaire  des  Monuments  du  Louvre,"  1873.  De  Rouge. 
In  the  present  instance,  this  god  seems  to  have  been  identified  with 
Ea. 

*  "  Le  sceptre  a  tSte  de  levier,  nomine  a  tort  sceptre  a  tete  de  con- 
coupha,  etait  porte  par  les  dieux." — "Die.  d'Arch.  Egyptienne:  P. 
Pierret;  Paris,  1875. 

f  Amen  of  the  blue  complexion  is  the  most  ancient  type  of  this 
god.  Here  he  represents  divine  royalty,  in  which  character  his 
title  is:  "  Lord  of  the  Heaven,  of  the  earth,  of  the  waters  and  of 
the  mountains."  "  Dans  ce  role  de  roi  du  monde,  Amon  a  les  chairs 
peintes  en  bleu  pour  indiquer  sa  nature  celeste;  et  lorsqu'il  porte  le 
titre  de  Seigneur  des  Trones,  il  est^  represente  assis,  la  couronne  en 
tete:  d'ordinaire  il  est  debout." — "Etude  des  Monuments  de  Karnak." 
De  Rouge.      "Melanges  d'Archeologie,"  vol.  i,  1873. 

There  were  almost  as  many  varieties  of  Amen  in  Egypt  as  there 
are  varieties  of  the  Madonna  in  Italy  or  Spain.  There  was  an  Amen 
of  Thebes,  an  Amen  of  Elephantine,  an  Amen  of  Coptos,  an  Amen  of 
Chemmis  (Panopolis),  an  Amen  of  the  Resurrection,  Amen  of  the 
Dew,  Amen  of  the  Sun  (Amen-Ra),  Amen  Self-created,  etc. 
Amen  and  Khem  were  doubtless  identical.     It  is  an  interesting  fact 


DISCOVEBIES  AT  ABOU  SIMBEL. 


311 


derful  preservation  of  the  surface  enabled  one  to  see  by 
what  means  the  ancient  artists  were  wont  to  produce  this 
singular  blue-black  effect  of  color.  It  was  evident  that  the 
flesh  of  the  god  had  first  been  laid  in  with  dead  black,  and 
then  colored  over  with  a 
dry,  powdery  cobalt-blue, 
through  which  the  black 
remained  partially  visible. 
He  carries  in  one  hand  the 
ankh,and  in  the  other  the 
greyhound-headed  scepter. 
To  him  advances  the  king, 
his  right  hand  uplifted, 
and  in  his  left  a  small  bas- 
ket containing  a  votive 
statuette  of  Ma,  the  god- 
dess of  truth  and  justice. 
Ma  is,  however,  shorn  of 
her  distinctive  feather,  and 
holds  the  jackal-headed 
staff  instead  of  the  custo- 
mary crux  ansata. 

As  portraiture,  there  is 
not  much  to  be  said  for 
any  of  these  heads  of 
Barneses  II  ;  but  the  feat 
tures  bear  a  certain  resem- 
blance to  the  well-known 
profile  of  the  king  ;  the 
action  of  the  figure  is 
graceful  and  animated ; 
and  the  drawing  displays 
in  all  its  purity  the  firm 
and  flowing  line  of  Egyp- 
tian draughtsmanship. 

The  dress  of  the  king  is 
very  rich  in  color ;   the    mitershaped    casque  being  of   a 

that  our  English  words,  chemical,  chemist,  chemistry,  etc.,  which 
the  dictionaries  derive  from  the  Arabic  al-kimia,  may  be  traced  back 
a  step  farther  to  the  Panopolitan  name  of  this  most  ancient  god  of 
the  Egyptians,  Khem  (Gr.  Pan;  Latin,  Priapus),  the  deity  of  plants 
and  herbs  and  of  the  creative  principle.  A  cultivated  Egyptian  would, 
doubtless,  have  regarded  all  these  Aniens  as  merely  local  or  symboli- 
cal types  of  a  single  deity. 


KAMESES   II   OF   kPEOS. 


312  A   THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

vivid  cobalt-blue*  picked  out  with  gold  color  ;  the  belt, 
necklace,  armlets,  and  bracelets,  of  gold,  studded  apparently 
with  precious  stones  ;  the  apron,  green  and  gold.  Over 
the  king's  head  hovers  the  sacred  vulture,  emblem  of 
Maut,  holding  in  her  claws  a  kind  of  scutcheon  upon 
which  is  depicted  the  crux  ansata. 


SOUTH   WALL. 

The  subjects  represented  on  this  wall  are  as  follows: 
1.  Rameses,  life-size,  presiding  over  a  table  of  offerings. 
The  king  wears  upon  his  head  the  Tclaft,  or  head-cloth, 
striped  gold  and  white  and  decorated  with  the  urseus.  The 
table  is  piled  in  the  usual  way  with  flesh,  fowl  and  flowers. 
The  surface  being  here  quite  perfect,  the  details  of  these 
objects  are  seen  to  bq  rendered  with  surprising  minuteness. 
Even  the  tiny  black  feather-stumps  of  the  plucked  geese 
are  given  with  the  fidelity  of  Chinese  art;  while  a  red  gash 
in  the  breast  of  each  shows  in  what  way  it  was  slain  for 
the  sacrifice.  The  loaves  are  shaped  precisely  like  the  so- 
called  "  cottage  loaves"  of  to-day  and  have  the  same  little 
depression  in  the  top,  made  by  the  baker's   finger.     Lotus 

*  The  material  of  this  blue  helmet,  so  frequently  depicted  on  the 
monument?,  may  have  been  the  Homeric  Kuanos,  about  which  so 
much  doubt  and  conjecture  have  gathered,  and  which  Mr.  Gladstone 
supposes  to  have  been  a  metal.  (See  "  Juventus  Mundi,"  chap,  xv, 
p.  532.)  A  paragraph  in  The  Academy  (June  8,  1876)  gives  the  fol- 
lowing particulars  of  certain  perforated  lamps  of  a  "  blue  metallic 
substance,"  discovered  at  Hissarlik  by  Dr.  Schliemann,  and  there 
found  lying  under  the  copper  shields  to  which  they  had  probably 
been  attached.  "An  analytical  examination  by  Landerer  (Berg., 
Euttenm.  Zeitung,  xxxix,  430)  has  shown  them  to  be  sulphide  of 
copper.  The  art  of  coloring  the  metal  was  known  to  the  copper- 
smiths of  Corinth,  who  plunged  the  heated  copper  into  the  fountain 
of  Peirene.  It  appears  not  impossible  that  this  was  a  sulphur  spring, 
and  that  the  blue  color  may  have  been  given  to  the  metal  by  plung- 
ing it  in  a  heated  state  into  the  water  and  converting  the  surface  into 
copper  sulphide." 

It  is  to  be  observed  that  the  Pharaohs  are  almost  always  repre- 
sented wearing  this  blue  helmet  in  the  battle-pieces  and  that  it  is 
frequently  studded  with  gold  rings.  It  must,  therefore,  have  been 
of  metal.  If  not  of  sulphureted  copper,  it  may  have  been 
made  of  steel,  which,  in  the  well  known  instance  of  the  butcher's 
sharpener,  as  well  as  in  representations  of  certain  weapons,  is  always 
painted  blue  upon  the  monuments. 


DISCOVERIES  AT  ADOU  SIMBEL. 


313 


and  papyrus  blossoms  in  elaborate  bouquet-holders   crown 
the  pile. 

2.  Two  tripods  of  light  and  elegant  design,  containing 
flowers. 

3.  The  bari,  or  sacred  boat,  painted  gold-color,  with  the 
usual  veil  half-drawn  across  the  naos,  or  shrine;  the  prow 
of  the  boat  being  richly  carved,  decorated  with  the  uta* 
or  symbolic  eye  and  preceded  by  a  large  fan  of  ostrich 
feathers.  The  boat  is  peopled  with  small  black  figures,  one 
of  which  kneels  at  the  stern;  while  a  sphinx  couchant,  with 
black  body  and  human  head,  keeps  watch  at  the  prow. 
The  sphinx  symbolizes  the  king. 

On  this  wall,  in  a  space  between  the  sacred  boat  and  the 
figure  of  Rameses  occurs  the-  following  inscription,  sculpt- 
ured in  high  relief  and  elaborately  colored: 


Note.— This  inscription  reads  according  to  the 
numbering  of  the  columns,  beginning  at  1  and 
reading  to  the  right;  then  resuming  at  7  and  read- 
ing to  the  left.  The  spaces  lettered  A  B  in  the 
lowest  figure  of  column  5  are  filled  in  with  the  two 
cartouches  of  Rameses  II. 


m 


^ 


_  o 


v_y 


*  "This  eye,  called   uta,  was  extensively  used  by  the  Egyptians 
both  as  an  ornament  and  amulet  during  life,   and   as   a   sepulchral 


314  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

TRANSLATION.* 

Said  by  Thoth,  the  Lord  of  Sesennu, f  [residing  |  in 
Amenheri:J  "  I  give  to  thee  an  everlasting  sovereignty  over 
the  two  countries,  0  son  of  [my]  body,  beloved,  Ra-user- 
nia  Sotep-en-Ra,  acting  as  propitiator  of  thy  Ka.  I  give 
to  tbee  myriads  of  festivals  of  Raineses,  beloved  of  Amen, 
Ra-user-m a  Sotep-en-Ra,  as  prince  of  every  place  where  the 
sun-disk  revolves.  The  beautiful  living  god,  maker  of 
beautiful  things  for  [his]  father  Thoth,  Lord  of  Sesennu 
[residing]  in  Amenheri.  He  made  mighty  and  beautiful 
monuments  forever  facing  the  eastern   horizon  of  heaven." 

The  meaning  of  which  is  that  Thoth,  addressing 
Rameses  II,  then  living  and  reigning,  promises  him  a  long 
life  and  many  anniversaries  of  his  jubilee, §  in  return  for 
the  works  made  in  his  (Thoth's)  honor  at  Abou  Simbel 
and  elsewhere. 

NORTH    WALL. 

At  the  upper  end  of  this  wall  is  depicted  a  life-size 
female  figure  wearing  an  elaborate  blue  head-dress  sur- 
mounted by  a  disk  and  two  ostrich  feathers.  She  holds  in 
her  right  hand  the  ankh,  and  in  her  left  the  jackal-headed 
scepter.  This  not  being  the  scepter  of  a  goddess  and  the 
head-dress  resembling  that  of  the  queen  as  represented  on 
the  facade  of  the  Temple  of  Hathor,  I   conclude  we    have 

amulet.  They  are  found  in  the  form  of  right  eyes  and  left  eyes,  and 
they  symbolize  the  eyes  of  Horus,  as  he  looks  to  the  north  and 
south  horizons  in  his  passage  from  east  to  west,  i.  e.,  from  sunrise  to 
sunset." 

M.  Grebaut,  in  his  translation  of  a  hymn  to  Amen-Ra,  observes: 
"  Le  soleil  man-hunt  d'Orient  en  Occident  eclaire  de  ses  deux  yeux 
les  deux  regions  du  Nord  et  du  Midi." — "  Revue  Arch.,"  vol.  xxv, 
1873;  p.  387. 

*  This  inscription  was  translated  for  the  first  edition  of  this  book 
by  the  late  Dr.  Birch;  for  the  present  translation  I  am  indebted  to 
the  courtesy  of  E.  A.  Wallis  Budge,  Esq. 

f  Sesennu — Eshmoon  or  Hermopolis. 

%  Amenheri — Gebel  Addeh. 

§  These  jubilees,  or  festivals  of  thirty  years,  were  religious  jubilees 
in  celebration  of  each  thirtieth  anniversary  of  the  accession  of  the 
reigning  Pharaoh. 


DISCO  VEEIES  A  T  ABO U  SIMBEL.  3 1 5 

here  a  portrait  of  Nefertari  corresponding  to  the  portrait 
of  Rameses  on  the  opposite  wall.  Near  her  stands  a  table 
of  offerings,  on  which,  among  other  objects,  are  placed 
four  vases  of  a  rich  blue  color  traversed  by  bands  of  yellow. 
They  perhaps  represent  the  kind  of  glass  known  as  the 
false  murrhine.*  Each  of  these  vases  contains  an  object 
like  a  pine,  the  ground-color  of  which  is  deep  yellow,  pat- 
terned over  with  scale-like  subdivisions  in  vermilion.  We 
took  them  to  represent  grains  of  maize  pyramidially  piled. 

Lastly,  a  pendant  to  that  on  the  opposite  wall,  comes 
the  sacred  bari.  It  is,  however,  turned  the  reverse  way, 
with  its  prow  toward  the  east;  and  it  rests  upon  an  altar, 
in  the  center  of  which  are  the  cartouches  of  Rameses  II 
and  a  small  hieroglyphic  inscription  signifying:  '*'  Beloved, 
by  Amen-Ra,  king  of  the  gods,  resident  in  the  land  of 
Kenus."f 

Beyond  this  point,  at  the  end  nearest  the  northeast 
corner  of  the  chamber,  the  piled  sand  conceals  whatever 
else  the  wall  may  contain  in  the  way  of  decoration. 

EAST     WALL. 

If  the  east  wall  is  decorated  like  the  others  (which  may 
be  taken  for  granted),  its  tableaux  and  inscriptions  are 
hidden  behind  the  sand  which  here  rises  to  the  ceiling. 
The  doorway  also  occurs  in  this  wall,  occupying  a  space 
four  feet  three  and  one-half  inches  in  width  on  the  inner 
side. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  incidents  connected  with  the 
excavation  of  this  little  adytum  remains  yet  to  be  told. 

I  have  described  the  female  figure  at  the  upper  end  of 
the  north  wall  and  how  she  holds  in  her  right  hand  the 
ankh  and  in  her  left  hand  the  jackal-headed  scepter.  The 
hand  that  holds  the  ankh  hangs  by  her  side;  the  hand  that 
holds  the  scepter  is  half-raised.  Close  under  this  upraised 
hand,  at  a  height  of  between  three  and  four  feet  from  the 
actual  level  of  the  floor,  there  were  visible  upon   the  un- 

*  There  are,  in  the  British  Museum,  some  bottles  and  vases  of  this 
description,  dating  from  the  eighteenth  dynasty;  see  Case  E, 
Second  Egyptian  Room.  They  are  of  dark-blue  translucent  glass, 
veined  with  waving  lines  of  opaque  white  and  yellow. 

f  Kenus — Nubia. 


316  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  TEE  NILE. 

colored  surface  of  the  original  stucco  several  lines  of  free- 
hand  writing.  This  writing  was  laid  on,  apparently,  with 
the  brush,  and  the  ink,  if  ever  it  had  been  black,  had  now 
become  brown.  Five  long  lines  and  three  shorter  lines  were 
uninjured.  Below  these  were  traces  of  other  fragmentary 
lines,  almost  obliterated  by  the  sand. 

We  knew  at  once  that  this  quaint  faint  writing  must  be 
in  either  the  hieratic  or  demotic  hand.  We  could  dis- 
tinguish, or  thought  we  could  distinguish,  in  its  vague  out- 
lines of  forms  already  familiar  to  us  in  the  hieroglyphs — 
abstracts,  as  it  were,  of  birds  and  snakes  and  boats.  There 
could  be  no  doubt,  at  all  events,  that  the  thing  was  curious; 
and  we  set  it  down  in  our  own  minds  as  the  writing  of  either 
the  architect  or  decorator  of  the  place. 

Anxious  to  make,  if  possible,  an  exact  fac-simile  of  this 
inscription,  the  writer  copied  it  three  times.  The  last  and 
best  of  these  copies  is  here  reproduced  in  photolithography, 
with  a  translation  from  the  pen  of  the  late  Dr.  Birch.  (See 
p.  317.)  We  all  know  how  difficult  it  is  to  copy  correctly  in 
a  language  of  which  one  is  ignorant;  and  the  tiniest  curve  or 
dot  omitted  is  fatal  to  the  sense  of  these  ancient  characters. 
In  the  present  instance,  notwithstanding  the  care  with 
which  the  transcript  was  made,  there  must  still  have  been 
errors;  for  it  has  been  found  undecipherable  in  places; 
and  in  these  places  there  occur  inevitable  lacunae. 

Enough,  however,  remains  to  show  that  the  lines  were 
written,  not  as  we  had  supposed  by  the  artist,  but  by  a 
distinguished  visitor,  whose  name  unfortunately  is  illegible. 
This  visitor  was  a  son  of  the  Prince  of  Kush,  or  as  it  is 
literally  written,  the  Royal  Son  of  Kush;  that  being  the 
official  title  of  the  Govornor  of  Ethiopia.*  As  there  were 
certainly  eight  governors  of  Ethiopia  during  the  reign  of 
Barneses  II  (and  perhaps  more,  whose  names  have  not 
reached  us),  it  is  impossible  even  to  hazard   a  guess  at  the 

*  Governors  of  Ethiopia  bore  this  title,  even  though  they  did  not 
themselves  belong  to  the  family  of  Pharaoh. 

It  is  a  curious  fact  that  one  of  the  governors  of  Ethiopia  during 
the  reign  of  Eameses  II  was  called  Mes,  or  Messou,  signifying  son, 
or  child — which  is  in  fact  Mosi  s.  Now  the  Moses  of  the  Bible  was 
adopted  by  Pharaoh's  daughter,  "  became  to  her  as  a  son,"  was  in- 
structed in  the  wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,  and  married  a  Ku shite 
woman,  black  but  comely.  It  would  perhaps  be  too  much  to  specu- 
late on  the  possibility  of  his  having  held  the  office  of  Governor,  or 
Roval  Son  of  Kush. 


DISCO  VERIES  A  T  ABO  V  SIMBEL.  31? 

parentage  of  our  visitor.  We  gather,  however,  that  he 
was  sent  hither  to  construct  a  road;  also  that  he  built 
transport  boats;  and  that  he  exercised  priestly  functions  in 
that  part  of  the  temple  which  was  inaccessible  to  all  but 
dignitaries  of  the  sacerdotal  order. 


HIERATIC    INSCRIPTION, 

NORTH  WALL   OF   SPEOS. 

Translated  by  8.  Birch,  Esq.,  LL.D.,  etc. 

thy  son  having  .  .  .  thou  hast  conquered  the  worlds 
at'  once  Amnion  Ra-Harmachis, \  the  god  at  the  first  time,*  who 
gives  life  health,  and  a  time  of  many  praises  to  the  groom 
of  the  Khen,**  son  of  the  Royal  son  of  Cush.ft  Opener 
of  the  road,  Maker  of  transport  boats,  Giver  of  instructions  to 
his  lord     .     .     .     Amenshaa     .     .     . 

ft  e    Ammon  Ra,  the  sun  god,  in  conjuction  or  identification  with  Har- 
em-a  x\\,  of  Horus-on-the-Horizon,  another  solar  deity. 
*  The  primaeval  god. 
**  Inner  place,  or  sanctuary, 
tt  Ethiopia. 


318  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Site,  inscriptions,  and  decorations  taken  into  account, 
there  yet  remains  this  question  to  be  answered  : 

What  was  the  nature  and  character  of  the  monument 
just  described  ? 

It  adjoined  a  pylon,  and,  as  we  have  seen,  consisted  of  a 
vaulted  pronaos  in  crude  brick,  and  an  adytum  excavated 
in  the  rock.  On  the  walls  of  this  adytum  are  depicted 
various  gods  with  their  attributes,  votive  offerings,  and 
portraits  of  the  king  performing  acts  of  adoration.  The 
bari,  or  ark,  is  also  represented  upon  the  north  and  south 
walls  of  the  adytum.  These  are  unquestionably  the  ordi- 
nary features  of  a  temple,  or  chapel. 

On  the  other  hand,  there  must  be  noted  certain  objections 
to  these  premises.  It  seemed  to  us  that  the  pylon  was 
built  first  and  that  the  south  boundary  wall  of  the  pronaos, 
being  a  subsequent  erection,  was  supported  against  the 
slope  of  the  pylon  as  far  as  where  the  spring  of  the  vault- 
ing began.  Besides  which,  the  pylon  would  have  been  a 
disproportionately  large  adjunct  to  a  little  monument,  the 
entire  length  of  which,  from  the  doorway  of  the  pronaos  to 
the  west  wall  of  the  adytum,  was  less  than  forty-seven  feet. 
We  therefore  concluded  that  the  pylon  belonged  to  the 
large  temple  and  was  erected  at  the  side  instead  of  in  front 
of  the  facade,  on  account  of  the  very  narrow  space  between 
the  mountain  and  the  river.* 

The  pylon  at  Kom  Ombo  is,  probably  for  the  same 
reason,  placed  at  the  side  of  the  temple  and  on  a  lower 
level.  To  those  who  might  object  that  a  brick  pylon 
would  hardly  be  attached  to  a  temple  of  the  first  class,  I 
would  observe  that  the  remains  of  a  similar  pylon  are  still 
to  be  seen  at  the  top  of  what  was  once  the  landing-place 
leading  to  the  great  temple  at  Wady  Ilalfeh.  It  may, 
therefore,  be  assumed  that  this  little  monument,  although 
connected  with  the  pylon  by  means  of  a  doorway  and  stair- 
case, was  an  excrescence  of  later  date. 

Being  an  excrescence,  however,  was  it,  in  the  strict  sense 
of  the  word,  a  temple? 

Even  this  seems  to  be  doubtful.    In  the  adytum  there  is 

*  At  about  an  equal  distance  to  the  north  of  the  great  temple,  on 
the  verge  of  the  bank,  is  a  shapeless  block  of  brick  ruin,  which 
might  possibly,  if  investigated,  turn  out  to  be  the  remains  of  a 
second  pylon  corresponding  to  this  which  we  partially  uncovered  to 
the  south. 


DISCO  VERIES  AT  ABO U  SIMBEL.  319 

no  trace  of  any  altar — no  fragment  of  stone  dais  or  sculpt- 
ured image — no  granite  shrine,  as  at  Philae — no  sacred 
recess,  as  at  Denderah.  The  standard  of  Horns  Aroeris, 
engraved  on  page  311,  occupies  the  center  place  upon  the 
wall  facing  the  entrance,  and  occupies  it,  not  as  a  tutelary 
divinity,  but  as  a  decorative  device  to  separate  the  two  large 
subjects  already  described.  Again,  the  gods  represented  in 
these  subjects  are  Ra  and  Amen  Ra,  the  tutelary  gods  of  the 
great  temple;  but  if  we  turn  to  the  dedicatory  inscription  on 
page  313  we  find  that  Thoth,  whose  image  never  occurs  at  all 
upon  the  walls*  (unless  as  one  of  the  little  gods  in  the  cor- 
nice), is  really  the  presiding  deity  of  the  place.  It  is  he  who 
welcomes  Rameses  and  his  offerings;  who  acknowledges  the 
"glory"  given  to  him  by  his  beloved  son;  and  who,  in 
return  for  the  great  and  good  monuments  erected  in  his 
honor,  promises  the  king  that  he  shall  be  given  "an  ever- 
lasting sovereignty  over  the  two  countries." 

Now  Thoth  was,  par  excellence,  the  God  of  Letters.  He 
is  styled  the  Lord  of  Divine  Words ;  the  Lord  of  the 
Sacred  Writings;  the  Spouse  of  Truth.  He  personifies 
the  Divine  Intelligence.  He  is  the  patron  of  art  and 
science;  and  he  is  credited  with  the  invention  of  the 
alphabet.  In  one  of  the  most  interesting  of  Champollion's 
letters  from  Thebes, f  he  relates  how,  in  the  fragmentary 
ruins  of  the  western  extremity  of  the  Ramesseum,  he  found 
a  doorway  adorned  with  the  figures  of  Thoth  and  Safek  ; 
Thoth  as  the  God  of  Literature,  and  Safek  inscribed  with 
the  title  of  Lady  President  of  the  Hall  of  Books.  At 
Denderah  there  is  a  chamber  especially  set  apart  for  the 
sacred  writings,  and  its  walls  are  sculptured  all  over  with 
a  catalogue  raisonnee  of  the  manuscript  treasures  of  the 
temple.  At  Edfu,  a  kind  of  closet  built  up  between  two 
of  the  pillars  of  the  hall  of  assembly  was  reserved  for  the 
same  purpose.  Every  temple,  in  short,  had  its  library; 
and  as  the  Egyptian  books — being  written  on  papyrus  or 
leather,  rolled  up,  and  stored  in  coffers — occupied  but 
little  space,  the  rooms  appropriated  to  this  purpose  were 
generally  small. 

It  was  Dr.  Birch's   opinion  that  our   little    monument 

*  He  may,  however,  be  represented  on  the  north  wall,  where  it  is 
covered  by  the  sand- heap. 
\  Letter  xiv,  p.  235.     "  Nouvelle  Ed.,"  Paris,  1868. 


320  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

may  have  been  the  library  of  the  Great  Temple  of  Abort 
Simbel.  This  being  the  case,  the  absence  of  an  altar,  and 
the  presence  of  Ra  and  Amen-Ra  in  the  two  principal 
tableaux,  are  sufficiently  accounted  for.  The  tutelary 
deity  of  the  great  temple  and  the  patron  deity  of  Rameses 
II  would  naturally  occupy,  in  this  subsidiary  structure,  the 
same  places  that  they  occupy  in  the  principal  one  ;  while 
the  library,  though  in  one  sense  the  domain  of  Thoth,  is 
still  under  the  protection  of  the  gods  of  the  temple  to 
which  it  is  an  adjunct. 

I  do  not  believe  we  once  asked  ourselves  how  it  came  to 
pass  that  the  place  had  remained  hidden  all  these  ages 
long;  yet  its  very  freshness  proved  how  early  it  must  have 
been  abandoned.  If  it  had  been  open  in  the  time  of  the 
successors  of  Rameses  II,  they  would  probably,  as  else- 
where, have  interpolated  inscriptions  and  cartouches,  or 
have  substituted  their  own  cartouches  for  those  of  the 
founder.  If  it  had  been  open  in  the  time  of  the  Ptolemies 
and  Caesars,  traveling  Greeks  and  learned  Romans  and 
strangers  from  Byzantium  and  the  cities  of  Asia  Minor 
would  have  cut  their  names  on  the  door-jambs  and  scrib- 
bled ex-votos  on  the  walls.  If  it  had  been  open  in  the 
days  of  Nubian  Christianity,  the  sculptures  would  have 
been  coated  with  mud  and  washed  with  lime  and  daubed 
with  pious  caricatures  of  St.  George  and  the  holy  family. 
But  we  found  it  intact — as  perfectly  preserved  as  a  tomb 
that  had  lain  hidden  under  the  rocky  bed  of  the  desert. 
For  these  reasons  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  it  became 
inaccessible  shortly  after  it  was  completed.  There  can  be 
little  doubt  that  a  wave  of  earthquake  passed,  during  the 
reign  of  Rameses  II,  along  the  left  bank  of  the  Nile,  be- 
ginning possibly  above  Wady  Halfeh,  and  extending  at 
least  as  far  north  as  Gerf  Ilossayn.  Such  a  shock  might 
have  wrecked  the  temple  at  Wady  Halfeh,  as  it  dislocated 
the  pylon  of  Wady  Sabooah.  and  shook  the  built-out  porti- 
coes of  Derr  and  Gerf  Ilossayn  ;  which  last  four  temples, 
as  they  do  not,  I  believe,  show  signs  of  having  been  added 
to  by  later  Pharaohs,  may  be  supposed  to  have  been 
abandoned  in  consequence  of  the  ruin  which  had  befallen 
them.  Here,  at  all  events,  it  shook  the  mountain  of  the 
great  temple,  cracked  one  of  the  Osiride  columns  of  the 
first  hall,*  shattered  one  of  the  four  great  colossi,  more  or 

*  That  this  shock  of  earthquake  occurred  during  the  lifetime  of 


DISCO  VERIEti  A T  ABO  U  SIMBEL.  321 

less  injured  the  other  three,  flung  down  the  great  brick 
pylon,  reduced  the  pronaosof  the  library  to  a  heap  of  ruin, 
and  not  only  brought  down  part  of  the  ceiling  of  the  exca- 
vated adytum,  but  rent  open  a  vertical  fissure  in  the  rock 
some  twenty  or  twenty-five  feet  in  length. 

With  so  much  irreparable  damage  done  to  the  great 
temple,  and  with  so  much  that  was  reparable  calling  for 
immediate  attention,  it  is  no  wonder  that  these  brick 
buildings  were  left  to  their  fate.  The  priests  would  have 
rescued  the  sacred  books  from  among  the  ruins,  and  then 
the  place  would  have  been  abandoned. 

So  much  by  way  of  conjecture.  As  hypothesis,  a  suf- 
ficient reason  is  perhaps  suggested  for  the  wonderful  state 
of  preservation  in  which  the  little  chamber  had  been 
handed  down  to  the  present  time.  A  rational  explana- 
tion is  also  offered  for  the  absence  of  later  cartouches,  of 
Greek  and  Latin  ex-votos,  of  Christian  emblems,  and  of 
subsequent  mutilation  of  every  kind.  For,  save  that  one 
contemporary  visitor — the  sou  of  the  Royal  Son  of  Kush — 
the  place  contained,  when  we  opened  it,  no  record  of  any 
passing  traveler,  no  defacing  autograph  of  tourist,  archae- 
ologist, or  scientific  explorer.  Neither  Belzoni  nor  Cham- 
pollion  had  found  it  out.     E\en  Lepsius  had  passed  it  by. 

It  happens  sometimes  that  hidden  things,  which  in  them- 
selves are  easy  to  find,  escape  detection  because  no  one 
thinks  of  looking  for  them.  But  such  was  not  the  case  in 
this  present  instance.  Search  had  been  made  here  again 
and  again;  and  even  quite  recently. 

Rameses  II  seems  to  be  proved  by  the  fact  that,  where  the  Osiride 
column  is  cracked  across,  a  wall  has  been  built  up  to  support  the 
two  last  pillars  to  the  left  at  the  upper  end  of  the  great  hall,  on 
which  wall  is  a  large  stela  covered  with  an  elaborate  hieroglyphic 
inscription,  dating  from  the  thirty-fifth  year,  and  the  thirteenth  day 
of  the  month  of  Tybi,  of  the  reign  of  Rameses  II.  The  right  arm 
of  the  external  colossus,  to  the  right  of  the  great  doorway,  has  also 
been  supported  by  the  introduction  of  an  arm  to  his  throne,  built  up 
of  square  blocks;  this  being  the  only  arm  to  any  of  the  thrones.  Miss 
Martineau  detected  a  restoration  of  part  of  the  lower  jaw  of  the 
northernmost  colossus,  and  also  a  part  of  the  dress  of  one  of  the 
Osiride  statues  in  the  great  hall.  1  have  in  my  possession  a  photo- 
graph taken  at  a  time  when  the  sand  was  several  feet  lower  than  at 
present,  which  shows  that  the  right  leg  of  the  northernmost  colossus 
is  also  a  restoration  on  a  gigantic  scale,  being  built  up,  like  the 
throne-arm,  in  great  blocks,  and  finished,  most  probably,  afterward. 


322  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

It  seems  that  when  the  khedive*  entertains  distinguished 
guests  and  sends  them  in  gorgeous  dahabeeyahs  up  the 
Nile,  he  grants  them  a  virgin  mound,  or  so  many  square 
feet  of  a  famous  necropolis  ;  lets  them  dig  as  deep  as  they 
please;  and  allows  them  to  keep  whatever  they  may  find. 
Sometimes  he  sends  out  scouts  to  beat  the  ground  ;  and 
then  a  tomb  is  found  and  left  unopened,  and  the  illustrious 
visitor  is  allowed  to  discover  it.  When  the  scouts  are  un- 
lucky, it  may  even  sometimes  happen  that  an  old  tomb  is 
re-stocked  ;  carefully  closed  up  ;  and  then,  with  all  the 
charm  of  unpremeditation,  re-opened  a   day  or  two  after. 

Now  Sheik  Kashwan  Ebn  Hassan  el  Kashef  told  us  that 
in  1869,  when  the  empress  of  the  French  was  at  Abou 
Simbel,  and  again  when  the  Prince  and  Princess  of  Wales 
came  up  in  1872,  after  the  prince's  illness,  he  received 
strict  orders  to  find  some  hitherto  undiscovered  tomb, f  in 
order  that  the  khedive's guests  might  have  the  satisfaction 
of  opening  it.  But,  he  added,  although  he  left  no  likely 
place  untried  among  the  rocks  and  valleys  on  both  sides  of 
the  river,  he  could  find  nothing.  To  have  unearthed  such 
a  birbeh  as  this  would  have  done  him  good  service  with 
the  government,  and  have  insured  him  a  splendid  back- 
shish from  prince  or  empress.  As  it  was,  he  was  repri- 
manded for  want  of  diligence,  and  he  believed  himself  to 
have  been  out  of  favor  ever  since. 

I  may  here  mention  —  in  order  to  have  done  with  this 
subject — that  besides  being  buried  outside  to  a  depth  of 
about  eight  feet,  the  adytum  had  been  partially  filled  inside 
by  a  gradual  infiltration  of  sand  from  above.  This  can 
only  have  accumulated  at  the  time  when  the  old  sand-drift 
was  at  its  highest.  That  drift,  sweeping  in  one  unbroken 
line  across  the  front  of  the  great  temple,  must  at  one  time 
have  risen  here  to  a  height  of  twenty  feet  above  the  pres- 
ent level.  From  thence  the  sand  had  found  its  way  down 
the  perpendicular  fissure  already  mentioned.  In  the  cor- 
ner behind  the  door,  the  sand-pile  rose  to  the  ceiling,  in 
shape  just  like  the  deposit  at  the  bottom  of  an  hour-glass. 
I  am  informed    by   the    painter   that  when  the  top  of  the 

*  This  refers  to  the  ex-khedive,  Ismail  Pasha,  who  ruled  Egypt 
at  the  time  when  this  book  was  written  and  published.  [Note  to 
second  edition.] 

f  There  are  tombs  in  some  of  the  ravines  behind  the  temples, 
which,  however,  we  did  not  see, 


DISCO  VERIES  A  T  ABO  U  8IMBEL.  323 

doorway  was  found  and  an  opening  first  effected,  the  sand 
poured  out  from  within,  like  water  escaping  from  an 
opened  sluice. 

Here,  then,  is  positive  proof  (if  proof  were  needed)  that 
we  were  first  to  enter  the  place,  at  all  events  since  the 
time  when  the  great  sand-drift  rose  as  high  as  the  top  of 
the  fissure. 

The  painter  wrote  his  name  and  ours,  with  the  date 
(February  10,  1874),  on  a  space  of  blank  wall  over  the  in- 
side of  the  doorway;  and  this  was  the  only  occasion  upon 
which  any  of  us  left  our  names  upon  an  Egyptian  monu- 
ment. On  arriving  at  Korosko,  where  there  is  a  post- 
office,  he  also  dispatched  a  letter  to  the  "  Times,"  briefly 
recording  the  facts  here  related.  That  letter,  which 
appeared  on  the  18th  of  March  following,  is  reprinted 
in  the  appendix  at  the  end  of  this  book. 

I  am  told  that  our  names  are  partially  effaced  and  that 
the  wall-paintings  which  we  had  the  happiness  of  admiring 
in  all  their  beauty  and  freshness  are  already  much  injured. 
Such  is  the  fate  of  every  Egyptian  monument,  great  or 
small.  The  tourist  carves  it  all  over  with  names  and 
dates  and  in  some  instances  with  caricatures.  The  student 
of  Egyptology,  by  taking  wet-paper  "squeezes,"  sponges 
away  every  vestige  of  tiie  original  color.  The  "collector" 
buys  and  carries  off  everything  of  value  that  he  can  get; 
and  the  Arab  steals  for  him.  The  work  of  destruction, 
meanwhile,  goes  on  apace.  There  is  no  one  to  prevent  it; 
there  is  no  one  to  discourage  it.  Every  day,  more  inscrip- 
tions are  mutilated — more  tombs  are  rifled — more  paintings 
and  sculptures  are  defaced.  The  Louvre  contains  a  full- 
length  portrait  of  Seti  I,  cut  out  bodily  from  the  walls  of 
his  sepulcher  in  the  Valley  of  the  Tombs  of  the  Kings.  The 
museums  of  Berlin,  of  Turin,  of  Florence,  are '  rich  in 
spoils  which  tell  their  own  lamentable  tale.  When  science 
leads  the  way,  is  it  wonderful  that  ignorance  should  follow? 


3U  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 


CHAPTER  XIX. 

BACK     THROUGH     NUBIA. 

There  are  fourteen  temples  between  Abou  Simbel  and 
Philse;  to  say  nothing  of  grottoes,  tombs  and  other  ruins. 
As  a  rule,  people  begin  to  get  tired  of  temples  about  this 
time  and  vote  them  too  plentiful.  Meek  travelers  go 
through  them  as  a  duty;  but  the  greater  number  rebel. 
Our  happy  couple,  I  grieve  to  say,  went  over  to  the  major- 
ity. Dead  to  shame,  they  openly  proclaimed  themselves 
bored.     They  even  skipped  several  temples. 

For  myself,  I  was  never  bored  by  them.  Though  they 
had  been  twice  as  many,  I  should  not  have  wished  them 
fewer.  Miss  Martineau  tells  how,  in  this  part  of  the 
river,  she  was  scarcely  satisfied  to  sit  down  to  breakfast 
■without  having  first  explored  a  temple;  but  I  could  have 
breakfasted,  dined,  supped  on  temples.  My  appetite  for 
them  was  insatiable  and  grew  with  what  it  fed  upon.  I 
went  over  them  all.  I  took  notes  of  them  all.  I  sketched 
them  every  one. 

I  may  as  well  say  at  once  that  I  shall  reproduce  but  few 
of  those  notes  and  only  some  of  those  sketches  in  the 
present  volume.  If,  surrounded  by  their  local  associations, 
these  ruins  fail  to  interest  many  who  travel  far  to  see  them, 
it  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  they  would  interest  readers  at 
home.  Here  and  there,  perhaps,  might  be  one  who  would 
care  to  pore  with  me  over  every  broken  sculpture;  to  spell 
out  every  half-legible  cartouche;  to  trace  through  Greek 
and  Roman  influences  (which  are  nowhere  more  conspicuous 
than  in  these  Nubian  buildings)  the  slow  deterioration  of  the 
Egyptian  style.  But  the  world  for  the  most  part  reserves 
itself,  and  rightly,  for  the  great  epochs  and  the  great  names 
of  the  past;  and  because  it  has  not  yet  had  too  much  of 
Karnak,  of  Abou  Simbel,  of  the  pyramids,  it  sets  slight 
store  by  those  minor  monuments  which  record  the  periods 
of  foreign  rule  and  the  decline  of  native  art.     For  these 


DISCO  VERIES  A  T  ABO  U  SIMBEL.  325 

reasons,  therefore,  I  propose  to  dismiss  very  briefly  many 
places  upon  which  I  bestowed  hours  of  delightful  labor. 

We  left  Abou  Simbel  just  as  the  moon  was  rising  on 
the  evening  of  the  18th  of  February,  and  dropped 
down  with  the  current  for  three  or  four  miles  before  moor- 
ing for  the  night.  At  six  next  morning  the  men  began 
rowing;  and  at  half-past  eight  the  heads  of  the  colossi 
were  still  looking  placidly  after  us  across  a  ridge  of  inter- 
vening hills.  They  were  then  more  than  five  miles  distant 
in  a  direct  line;  but  every  feature  was  still  distinct  in  the 
early  daylight.  One  went  up  again  and  again,  as  long  as 
they  remained  in  sight,  and  bade  good-by  to  them  at  last 
with  that  same  heartache  which  comes  of  a  farewell  view  of 
the  Alps. 

When  I  say  that  we  were  seventeen  days  getting  from 
Abou  Simbel  to  Philae,  and  that  we  had  the  wind  against 
us  from  sunrise  till  sunset  almost  every  day,  it  will  be  seen 
that  our  progress  was  of  the  slowest.  To  those  who  were 
tired  of  temples,  and  to  the  crew  who  were  running  short 
of  bread,  these  long  days  of  lying  up  under  the  bank,  or  of 
rocking  to  and  fro  in  the  middle  of  the  river,  were  dreary 
enough. 

Slowly  but  surely,  however,  the  hard-won  miles  go  by. 
Sometimes  the  barren  desert  hems  us  in  to  right  and  left, 
with  never  a  blade  of  green  between  the  rock  and  the  river. 
Sometimes,  as  at  Tosko,*  we  come  upon  an  open  tract, 
where  there  are  palms  and  castor-berry  plantations  and 
corn-fields  alive  with  quail.  The  idle  man  goes  ashore  at 
Tosko  with  his  gun,  while  the  little  lady  and  the  writer 
climb  a  solitary  rock  about  two  hundred  feet  above  the 
river.  The  bank  shelves  here,  and  a  crescent-like  wave  of 
inundation,  about  three  miles  in  length,  overflows  it  every 
season.  From  this  height  one  sees  exactly  how  far  the 
wave  goes,  and  how  it  must  make  a  little  bay  when  it  is 
there.  Now  it  is  a  bay  of  barley,  full  to  the  brim,  and 
rippling  to  the  breeze.  Beyond  the  green  comes  the  desert; 
the  one  defined  against  the  other  as  sharply  as  water  against 
land.  The  desert  looks  wonderfully  old  beside  the  young 
green  of  the  corn,  and  the  Nile  flows  wide  among  sand- 
banks, like  a  tidal  river  near  the  sea.     The  village,  squared 

*  Tosko  is  on  the  eastern  bank,  and  not,  as  in  Keith  Johnston's 
map,  on  the  west, 


326  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

off  in  parallelograms  like  a  cattle  market,  lies  mapped  out 
below.  A  field-glass  shows  that  the  houses  are  simply 
cloistered  court-yards  roofed  with  palm-thatch;  the  sheik's 
house  being  larger  than  the  rest,  with  the  usual  open  space 
and  spreading  sycamore  in  front.  There  are  women  mov- 
ing to  and  fro  in  the  court-yards,  and  husbandmen  in  the 
castor-berry  patches.  A  funeral  with  a  train  of  wailers 
goes  out  presently  toward  the  burial-ground  on  the  edge 
of  the  desert.  The  idle  man,  a  slight  figure  with  a  veil 
twisted  round  his  hat,  wades,  half-hidden,  through  the 
barley,  signaling  his  whereabouts  every  now  and  then  by  a 
puff  of  white  smoke.  A  cargo-boat,  stripped  and  shorn, 
comes  floating  down  the  river,  making  no  visible  progress. 
A  native  felucca,  carrying  one  tattered  brown  sail,  goes 
swiftly  up  with  the  wind  at  a  pace  that  will  bring  her  to 
Abou  Simbel  before  nightfall.  Already  she  is  past  the 
village;  and  those  black  specks  yonder,  which  we  had 
never  dreamed  were  crocodiles,  have  slipped  off  into  the 
water  at  her  approach.  And  now  she  is  far  in  the  dis- 
tance— that  glowing,  illimitable  distance — traversed  by  long 
silvery  reaches  of  river,  and  ending  in  a  vast  flat,  so  blue 
and  aerial  that,  but  for  some  three  or  four  notches  of  purple 
peaks  on  the  horizon,  one  could  scarcely  discern  the  point 
at  which  land  and  sky  melt  into  each  other.  Ibrim  comes 
next;  then  Derr;  then  Wady  Sabooyah.  At  Ibrim,  as  at 
Derr,  there  ars  "fair  "  families,  whose  hideous  light  hair 
and  blue  eyes  (grafted  on  brown-black  skins)  date  back  to 
Bosnian  forefathers  of  three  hundred  and  sixty  years  ago. 
These  people  give  themselves  airs,  and  are  the  haute 
noblesse  of  the  place.  The  men  are  lazy  and  quarrelsome. 
The  women  trail  longer  robes,  wear  more  beads  and  rings, 
and  are  altogether  more  unattractive  and  castor-oily  than 
any  we  have  seen  elsewhere.  They  keep  slaves,  too.  We 
saw  these  unfortunates  trotting  at  the  heels  of  their  mis- 
tresses, like  dogs.  Knowing  slavery  to  be  officially 
illegal  in  the  dominions  of  the  khedive,  the  M.  B.'s 
applied  to  a  dealer,  who  offered  them  an  Abyssinian  girl 
for  ten  pounds.  This  useful  article — warranted  a  bargain 
— was  to  sweep,  wash,  milk,  and  churn;  but  was  not  equal 
to  cooking.  The  M.  B.'s,  it  is  needless  to  add,  having 
verified  the  facts,  retired  from  the  transaction. 

At  Derr  we  pay  a  farewell  visit  to  the  temple  ;  and  at 
Amada,  arriving  toward  close  of  day,  see  the  great  view 
for  the  last  time  in  the  glory  of  sunset. 


DISCO  VERIES  AT  ABO U  SI  MB  EL.  327 

And  now,  though  the  north  wind  blows  persistently,  it 
gets  hotter  every  day.  The  crocodiles  like  it,  and  come 
out  to  bask  in  the  sunshine.  Called  up  one  morning  in 
the  middle  of  breakfast  we  see  two — a  little  one  and  a  big 
one — on  a  sand-bank  near  by.  The  men  rest  upon  their 
oars.  The  boat  goes  with  the  stream.  No  one  speaks;  no 
one  moves.  Breathlessly  and  in  dead  silence,  we  drift  on 
till  we  are  close  beside  them.  The  big  one  is  rough  and 
black,  like  the  trunk  of  a  London  elm,  and  measures  full 
eighteen  feet  in  length.  The  little  one  is  pale  and  green- 
ish and  glistens  like  glass.  All  at  once  the  old  one  starts, 
doubles  itself  up  for  a  spring,  and  disappears  with  a  tre- 
mendous splash.  But  the  little  one,  apparently  uncon- 
scious of  danger,  lifts  its  tortoise-like  head  and  eyes  us 
sidewise.  Presently  some  one  whispers  ;  and  that  whisper 
breaks  the  spell.  Our  little  crocodile  flings  up  its  tail, 
plunges  down  the  bank,  and  is  gone  in  a  moment. 

The  crew  could  not  understand  how  the  idle  man,  after 
lying  in  wait  for  crocodiles  at  Abou  Simbel,  should  let  this 
rare  chance  pass  without  a  shot.  But  we  had  heard  since 
then  of  so  much  indiscriminate  slaughter  at  the  second 
cataract,  that  he  was  resolved  to  bear  no  part  in  the  exter- 
mination of  those  old  historic  reptiles.  That  a  sportsman 
should  wish  for  a  single  trophy  is  not  unreasonable;  but 
that  scores  of  crack  shots  should  go  up  every  winter  kill- 
ing and  wounding  these  wretched  brutes  at  an  average  rate 
of  from  twelve  to  eighteen  per  gun,  is  mere  butchery  and 
cannot  be  too  strongly  reprehended.  Year  by  year,  the 
creatures  become  shyer  and  fewer  ;  and  the  day  is  prob- 
ably not  far  distant  when  a  crocodile  will  be  as  rarely 
seen  below  Semneh  as  it  is  now  rarely  seen  below 
Assuan. 

The  thermometer  stands  at  85°  in  the  saloon  of  the 
Philre,  when  we  come  one  afternoon  to  Wady  Sabooah, 
where  there  is  a  solitary  temple  drowned  in  sand.  It 
was  approached  once  by  an  avenue  of  sphinxes  and  stand- 
ing colossi,  now  shattered  and  buried.  The  roof  of  the 
pronaos,  if  ever  it  was  roofed,  is  gone.  The  inner  halls 
and  the  sanctuary — all  excavated  in  the  rock— are  choked 
and  impassable.  Only  the  propylon  stands  clear  of  sand; 
and  that,  massive  as  it  is,  looks  as  if  one  touch  of  a  bat- 
tering-ram would  bring  it  to  the  ground.  Every  huge 
stone   in  it   is  loose.     Every  block  in  the   cornice  seems 


328  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

tottering  in  its  place.  In  all  this  we  fancy  we  recognize 
the  work  of  our  Abou  Simbel  earthquake.* 

At  Wady  Sabooah  we  see  a  fat  native.  The  fact  claims 
record,  because  it  is  so  uncommon.  A  stalwart,  middle- 
aged  man,  dressed  in  a  tattered  kilt  and  carrying  a  palm- 
staff  in  his  hand,  he  stands  before  us  the  living  double  of 
the  famous  wooden  statue  at  Boulak.  He  is  followed  by 
his  two  wives  and  three  or  four  children,  all  bent  upon 
trade.  The  women  have  trinkets,  the  boys  a  live  chame- 
leon  and   a   small  stuffed   crocodile  for  sale.     AVhile  the 

painter  is  bargaining  for  the  crocodile  and  L for  a 

nose-ring,  the  writer  makes  accquaintance  with  a  pair  of 
self-important  hoopoes,  who  live  in  the  pylon  and  evidently 
regard  it  as  a  big  nest  of  their  own  building.  They  sit 
observing  me  curiously  while  I  sketch,  nodding  their 
crested  polls  and  chattering  disparagingly,  like  a  couple  of 
critics.  By  and  by  comes  a  small  black  bird  with  a  white 
breast  and  sings  deliriously.  It  is  like  no  little  bird  that 
I  have  ever  seen  before  ;  but  the  song  that  it  pours  so  lav- 
ishly from  its  tiny  throat  is  as  sweet  and  brilliant  as  a  ca- 
nary's. 

Powerless  against  the  wind,  the  dahabeeyah  lies  idle  day 
after  day  in  the  sun.  Sometimes,  when  we  chance  to  be 
near  a  village,  the  natives  squat  on  the  bank  and  stare  at 
us  for  hours  together.  The  moment  any  one  appears  on 
deck  they  burst  into  a  chorus  of  "  Backshish  !"  There  is 
but  one  way  to  get  rid  of  them,  and  that  is  to  sketch  them. 
The  effect  is  instantaneous.  With  a  good-sized  block  and 
a  pencil,  a  whole  village  may  be  put  to  flight  at  a  moment's 
notice.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  one  wishes  for  a  model,  the 
difficulty  is  insuperable.  The  painter  tried  in  vain  to  get 
some  of  the  women  and  girls  (not  a  few  of  whom  were 
really  pretty)  to  sit  for  their  portraits.     I  well  remember 

*  This  is  one  of  the  temples  erected  by  Rameses  the  Great,  and,  I 
believe,  not  added  to  by  any  of  his  successors.  The  colossi,  the 
Osiride  columns,  the  sphinxes  (now  battered  out  of  all  human  sem- 
blance) were  originally  made  in  his  image.  The  cartouches  are  all 
his,  and  in  one  of  the  inner  chambers  there  is  a  list  of  his  little 
family.  All  these  chambers  were  accessible  till  three  or  four  years 
ago,  when  a  party  of  German  travelers  carried  off  some  sculptured 
tablets  of  great  archaeological  interest;  after  which  act  of  spoliation 
the  entrance  was  sanded  up  by  ordrer  of  Mariette  Bey.  See,  also, 
with  regard  to  the  probable  date  of  the  earthquake  at  tfiis  place, 
chap,  xviii,  p.  321, 


DISCO  VER1ES  AT  ABO U  STMBEL.  3 i 0 

one  haughty  beauty,  shaped  and  draped  like  a  Juno,  who  stood 
on  the  bank  one  morning,  scornfully  watching  all  that  was 
done  on  deck.  She  carried  a  flat  basket  back-handed;  and 
her  arms  were  covered  with  bracelets  and  her  fingers  with 
rings.  Her  little  girl,  in  a  Madame  Nubia  fringe,  clung 
to  her  skirts,  half-wondering,  half-frightened.  The 
painter  sent  out  an  ambassador  plenipotentiary  to  offer  her 
anything  from  a  sixpence  to  half  a  sovereign  if  she  would 
only  stand  like  that  for  half  an  hour.  The  manner  of  her 
refusal  was  grand.  She  drew  her  shawl  over  her  face,  took 
her  child's  hand,  and  stalked  away  like  an  offended  god- 
dess. The  writer,  meanwhile,  hidden  behind  a  curtain, 
had  snatched  a  tiny  sketch  from  the  cabin-window. 

On  the  western  bank,  somewhere  between  Wady  Sabooah 
and  Maharrakeh,  in  a  spot  quite  bare  of  vegetation,  stand 
the  ruins  of  a  fortified  town  which  is  neither  mentioned 
by  Murray  nor  entered  in  the  maps.  It  is  built  on  a  base  of 
reddish  rock  and  commands  the  river  and  the  desert.  The 
painter  and  writer,  explored  it  one  afternoon,  in  the  course 
of  a  long  ramble.  Climbing  first  a  steep  slope  strewn  with 
masonry,  we  came  to  the  remains  of  a  stone  gateway.  Find- 
ing this  impassable,  we  made  our  way  through  a  breach  in  the 
battlemented  wall,  and  thence  up  a  narrow  road  down  which 
had  been  poured  a  cataract  of  debris.  Skirting  a  ruined  post- 
ern at  the  top  of  this  road,  we  found  ourselves  in  a  close  laby- 
rinth of  vaulted  arcades  built  of  crude  brick  and  lit  at  short 
intervals  by  openings  in  the  roof.  These  strange  streets — for 
they  were  streets — were  lined  on  either  side  by  small  dwell- 
ings built  of  crude  brick  on  stone  foundations.  We  went  into 
some  of  the  houses — mere  ruined  courts  and  roofless  cham- 
bers, in  which  were  no  indications  of  hearths  or  staircases. 
In  one  lay  a  fragment  of  stone  column  about  fourteen  inches 
in  diameter.  The  air  in  these  ancient  streets  was  foul  and 
stagnant  and  the  ground  was  everywhere  heaped  with 
fragments  of  black,  red  and  yellowish  pottery,  like  the 
shards  of  Elephantine  and  Philae.  A  more  desolate  place 
in  a  more  desolate  situation  I  never  saw.  It  looked  as  if 
it  had  been  besieged,  sacked  and  abandoned,  a  thousand 
years  ago  ;  which  is  probably  under  the  mark,  for  the 
charactor  of  the  pottery  would  seem  to  point  to  the  period 
of  Eoman  occupation.  Noting  how  the  brick  super- 
structures were  reared  on  apparently  earlier  masonry,  we 
concluded  that  the  beginnings  of  this  place  were  probably 


330  A  THOUSAND  MILES  UP  THE  NILE. 

Egyptian  and  the  later  work  Roman.  The  marvel  was 
that  any  town  should  have  been  built  in  so  barren  a  spot, 
there  being  not  so  much  as  an  inch-wide  border  of  lentils 
for  a  mile  or  more  between  the  river  and  the  desert. 

Having  traversed  the  place  from  end  to  end,  we  came 
out  through  another  breach  on  the  westward  side,  and, 
thinking  to  find  a  sketchable  point  of  view  inland,  struck 
down  toward  the  plain.  In  order  to  reach  this,  one  first 
must  skirt  a  deep  ravine  which  divides  the  rock  of  the 
citadel  from  the  desert.  Following  the  brink  of  this 
ravine  to  the  point  at  which  it  falls  into  the  level,  we 
found  to  our  great  surprise  that  we  were  treading  the 
banks  of  an  extinct  river. 

It  was  full  of  sand  now;  but  beyond  all  ojiestion  it  had 
once  been  full  of  water.  It  came,  evidently,  from  the 
mountains  over  toward  the  northwest.  We  could  trace 
its  windings  for  a  long  way  across  the  plain,  thence 
through  the  ravine  and  on  southward  in  a  line  parallel 
with  the  Nile.  Here,  beneath  our  feet,  were  the  water- 
worn  rocks  through  which  it  had  fretted  its  way;  and 
yonder,  half-buried  in  sand,  were  the  bowlders  it  had 
rounded  and  polished  and  borne  along  in  its  course.  I 
doubt,  however,  if  when  it  was  a  river  of  water  this 
stream  was  half  as  beautiful  as  now,  when  it  is  a  river  of 
sand.  It  was  turbid  then,  no  doubt,  and  charged  with 
sediment.  Now  it  is  more  golden  than  Pactolus  and 
covered  with  ripples  more  playful  and  undulating  than 
were  ever  modeled  by  Canaletti's  pencil. 

Supposing  yonder  town  to  have  been  founded  in  the 
days  when  the  river  was  a  river  and  the  plain  fertile  and 
well  watered,  the  mystery  of  its  position  is  explained.  It 
was  protected  in  front  by  the  Nile  and  in  the  rear  by  the 
ravine  and  the  river.  But  how  long  ago  was  this?  Here, 
apparently,  was  an  independent  stream,  taking  its  rise 
among  the  Libyan  mountains.  It  dated  back,  conse- 
quently, to  a  time  when  those  barren  hills  collected  and 
distributed  water — that  is  to  say,  to  a  time  when  it  used  to 
rain  in  Nubia.  And  that  time  must  have  been  before  the 
rocky  barrier  broke  down  at  Silsilis,  in  the  old  days  when 
the  land  of  Kush  flowed  with  milk  and  honey.* 

*  Not   only   near   this   nameless   town,  but   in   many   other  parts 
between  Abou  Siinbel   and   Philse,    we  found   the   old  alluvial  soil 


DISCO  VKR1 ES  AT  ABOV  SIMB  EL.  331 

It  would  rain  even  now  in  Nubia  if  it  could.  That 
same  evening,  when  the  sun  was  setting,  we  saw  a  fan-like 
drift  of  dappled  cloud  miles  high  above  our  heads,  m